Judging the QUTBands Hackathon

This is with great honor that I was invited to judge again the QUTBands Hackathon. QUTbands is the QUT student club for aspiring Business Analysts, Data Scientists.

Before the live presentation, which was the event I was invited to judge, students attended a Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder training session delivered by keyData. They also attended a data visualisation and story telling workshop delivered by Kate Norris from Presentation Boss.

Data: Happiness

The theme of the datathon was happiness. Using The World Happiness dataset, students had to imagine they were a policy maker who was going to develop a proposal to a world-wide organization about the happiness situation of countries in the world.

They had to use the dataset provided (and any other relevant datasets), build a Tableau dashboard or story, find relevant insights and present their findings in front of the group during the hackathon live event.

Students were in teams of 3 to 4 and had access to the data and problem statement about 10 days prior to the live event.

All teams had to pitch in front of the panel of judges, 5 minutes each. The first winning team would receive an internship opportunity with Keydata.

This was meant to be an inperson event, but due to the Brisbane 3-days lockdown, the event had to turn to virtual only. Congrats to the organisers and students for pivoting so easily.

The 8 teams submissions

Team nameLink to Tableau PublicPosition (only first 3 teams are in order based on their scores
Tableau HackersLinkChampions!!
Happy HackersLinkFirst runner-up
The OutliersLinkSecond runner-up
Another Day, Another Data!Link
Team SEGLink
Happy Pie FaceLink
  • Another Day, Another Data!
  • Bot-Sqad
  • Happy Hackers
  • Happy Pie Face
  • HHK
  • The Outliers
  • Team SEG
  • Tableau Hackers - Champion

My impressions:

Assuming that all students were pretty much all beginners, their work was quite impressive, well done all.

  • What I found interesting was most teams (6 out of 8) decided to use Story rather than a dashboard. Would this contribute to my other points below?
  • The teams that had most success kept it simple. For example the winning team used one type of chart only, produced a nice consistent design and delivered a powerful story and insights. So I wonder if Story (like Powerpoint) is pushing students (involuntary) to cram too much in their presentations?
  • The teams that had practiced were more in control I felt.
  • A few teams, tried to use too many charts or text in their stories. You could feel they were struggling a bit to finish their presentations and their key message/insight was a bit lost. Keep it simple!
  • Many teams used maps (the data had countries), which was tempting. Sometimes a good old bar chart works better than a busy map with lots or red and green!.
  • I had offered in the datathon slack channel, to give feedback to the teams before the live presentation. Only two teams took on the offer, I imagined more teams would have done so. I often say that asking for feedback is important, dont be shy!.

The other judges, Dave Keys and Kate Norris had also very insightful feedback (I wish I wrote these down!). Keep is simple and focus on the main insights were the key takeaways.

I hope this is only the beginning of the students data journey. Data visualisation is not easy, it takes time and practice.

I advised students to keep on practicing, join a data community activity (Makeover Monday), ask for feedback, keep it simple.

Refer to my previous blog post “How to get started with data visualisation and Tableau as a beginner?” about this topic.

Finally, well done to the QUTBands organising team Alice, Tamara, Juhi and Aparna, you did an amazing job!

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