Learning from the Past and Winning the Present


Congrats to GalvanizeU graduates Baolin Liu and Jonathan Hourany, current gU student Anthony Abercrombie, Data Scientist in Residence Eugene Huang, and their teammate Jared Wilber, a UC Berkeley grad student, on taking first place at the iidata Time Analysis Competition!

In 3 hours, they solved 5 expert level questions using a food + nutrition data set. “To us, the ‘expert questions’ were like the typical machine learning questions we’d get in a Galvanize classroom,” said Baolin Liu.

After placing 2nd in the iidata competition last year, Liu and Huang tweaked their approach to the 2017 event based on lessons learned:

  • “Get to the church on time.” Last year, the guys were late to the competition because of major traffic delays. This time around, they allowed more commute time and arrived early.
  • Speaking of time: They were smarter about allocating enough tick-tock for each phase of the process leading up to their final presentation.
  • Put it in the slides: At the 2016 event, Liu & Huang overlooked the need to include some of their key findings in their slide deck. This time, they made sure to include all of their pertinent analysis in their presentation.
  • Delivery is key: The guys picked up the pace of their presentation after going too slowly in 2016. They made sure each team member knew his part well, and they timed themselves to be sure they hit the mark.

The G-team also had another year’s worth of education and experience under their belts, so their skills and confidence were that much stronger. When it came to answering the judges’ questions, says Liu, “We got grilled by our Galvanize professors all the time, so [the iidata judges] didn’t seem so intimidating.”

In addition to bragging rights, the team walked away with a $200 cash prize, AKA “party money.” (Some of which was allocated to post-win drinks and pizza.)

For more deets on the competition, check out Jonathan Hourany’s LinkedIn post here.


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