After almost a month-long effort, on November 5th, 2016 Capella University graduate students Murali Sastry and Jared Mehlhaff beat 28 other teams to take first place at the MinneMUDAC: Dive Into Water analytics competition.

Sastry and Mehlhaff are students in the Master of Science in Analytics program, and credit the knowledge and skills gained in the program for their success. “The Capella MS in Analytics program helped us cover all aspects of the MinneMUDAC project, from understanding data to modeling, and lastly, to preparing a presentation,” Mehlhaff says.  He also credits their win to the experience gained from working with real-world problems at Capella, as well as their training and experience with SAS® software.


What Is MinneMUDAC?

MinneMUDAC is the result of a partnership between Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition (MUDAC), an organization with a history of conducting analytic competitions in the academic community; Social Data Science (SDS), a nonprofit focused on applying analytic insights to the public sector; and MinneAnalytics, a 7,000 member, nonprofit organization committed to advancing the analytic professional community.

The MinneMUDAC: Dive into Water data analytics competition, held throughout the month of October 2016, invited teams of graduate and undergraduate students from across the country to analyze multiple years of Minnesota economic and water quality data, with the objective of developing real business insights and actionable recommendations. More than 80 judges assessed each team in three separate skill areas: cleaning and preparing the data, doing the statistical analysis, and presenting their findings in a public environment.

“Our purpose was to generate student interest in and commitment to a career in data science with a goal of providing a real-world opportunity for students to showcase their talents,” says Mark Gorman, co-chair of the event and MinneAnalytics board member. “Our judges were impressed by the excellent job the teams did in demonstrating not only their skills in analyzing the data but also in presenting that information effectively in the limited timeframe provided.”


Advancing Analytics through SAS Partnership

Capella University teamed with analytics leader SAS to launch the Master of Science in Analytics in October of 2015. The program is designed to prepare data analytics professionals to interpret and transform data in order to develop solutions that resolve applied problems. In addition, students prepare to effectively provide insights and communicate results.

When asked about his choice to enroll in the Capella program, Sastry says, “It catered to my specific needs – a flexible online program, good rankings, and had SAS as its vehicle to achieve coursework practice objectives.”

“We’re excited to see students wielding SAS to explore serious issues facing our society, such as water quality,” says Emily Baranello, vice president of SAS Education Practice. “SAS experience with real-world data paves the way to many rewarding career opportunities.”


Interested in a career in data science and analytics? Learn more about Capella’s Master’s in Analytics program.

See graduation rates, median student debt, and other information at Capella Results.