School of Mathematics

ASA DataFest 2021 @ EDI Challenge

36 teams participated in the ASA DataFest 2021 @ EDI Challenge between the 26th and 28th of March, 2021.

ASA DataFest is a data analysis competition where teams of up to five students attack a large and complex surprise dataset over a weekend to find and communicate insights into the data. The teams that impress the judges win prizes, and the event is a great opportunity for them to gain some data analyses work experience.

Undergraduate students from 10 different schools across the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University participated in this event with Academic staff, postgraduate students, and data scientists from industry attending as consultants to guide participants during the event.

For this competition the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety center was interested in discovering and identifying patterns of drug use, with particular attention paid to identifying misuse. These could include patterns that might describe demographic profiles within a given category of drug or combinations of drugs that frequently appear together. One goal they were keen to achieve with the data was to predict future drug misuse cases. The data sets came from participants who responded to an on-line request and were paid to participate.

For this challenge the participants were asked to produce two products:

  • a six minute video detailing their primary findings; and
  • a one page summary which included the primary questions that were investigated, or the general goal of the project, the methods used, and a quick description of the findings.

Over the weekend participants worked together, and with consultants, via Gather Town. Multiple virtual get-togethers were held on Gather Town's virtual rooftop where everybody involved could meet and get to know each other! The award ceremony was held over Zoom on the second of April.

The students provided the following thoughts on the event:

"I highly encourage all students to take part in this event. Not only is it incredibly fun, but it also gives you an opportunity to showcase/develop your analytical, teamwork, and time management skills, all of which are highly valuable to a potential employer."

"I think everyone should sign up for DataFest! No matter what your background is, you will certainly provide valuable insight that other teammates might not have! Beyond that, it is really fun to muck around in realistic data and see what insights you can find."

"The event was a great opportunity to challenge my coding skills and work with people I had not met before. At the end of the weekend, I had made new friends and learnt a lot. I strongly recommend it."


Our judges for this year's DataFest @ EDI were:

  • Ksenia Aleksankina - Data Scientist, Mirador Analytics
  • Nicole Augustin - Faculty, University of Edinburgh
  • Philip Darke - Actuary and PhD Researcher, Mercer and Newcastle University
  • Joanna Faulds - Senior Data Scientist, BBC
  • Ruth King - Faculty, University of Edinburgh
  • John Macinnes - Retired, University of Edinburgh

The judges remarked that "it's so hard to pick a winner, everybody did so well, but it was honestly really true that every team did something great. That could have been a slick presentation, novel visualisation or just some general comments that showed a really deep understanding of the data or the problem. So, you should all be really proud about what you've achieved over just a weekend, it's quite incredible."


  • Best Insight - Honorable Mention: JGGL
    • Gabrielle Gaudeau, Jai Karayi, Gareth Lamb, Luca Terry
  • Best Insight - The Bayes-sic Team
    • Zeno Kujawa, Greig Rowe, Lee Suddaby
  • Best Visualisation - Hippopotamus Testing
    • Michał Kobiela, Kaiya Raby, Michael Renfrew, Stanisław Szcześniak
  • Best Use of Outside Data - TheThreeMusketeers
    • Benjamin Gardner, Matthew Reidy
  • Judge's Pick - FlyingPenguins
    • Arnav Bhargava, Purvi Harwani, Arjun Nanning Ramamurthy, Laura O'Sullivan, Pablo Ortuno Floria
  • Judge's Pick - Team Schoffee
    • Syaqilah Farihah Binti Akmal Hisham, Serena Inez Binti Rafizal, Siti Rohmah Binti Satitan, Nurul Binti Yazid, Nicholas Goguen
  • Best Team Name - Abraca-data
    • Dave Diaper, Adam Henderson, Jonah Ramponi, Lyndon Scott Humphris, Robin Weersma

You can read more about the winning presentations and watch the videos at