WSU students tackle "Big Data Analytics Challenge"

Students representing business, computer science and engineering competed for top honors and prizes in the School of Business’ first Big Data Analytics Challenge on Friday, November 21, in the Prentis Building.

Challenged to develop innovative ways of driving prospective graduate students to the business school’s website using HubSpot inbound marketing software, student teams had two hours to research, evaluate and develop 12 minute presentations that offered new ideas and recommendations to event judges.

And the winner is . . .

A formidable combination of business and engineering talent, the winning team was led by James Kupras, an M.B.A. student with a dual concentration in information systems management (ISM) and international business. Together with Juxhin Gojka, a senior ISM major, and John Chacko, a senior computer science major, the teammates’ capitalized on each other’s strengths.

"Navigating HubSpot, determining the correct data sources to use, analyzing that data for actionable insight, and creating a presentation within such a short timespan was demanding, and required intense focus," said Kupras. "That being said, the challenge was also fun and a significant learning opportunity for me. Not only did I learn great insights from my teammates and other competitors, I learned a lot about my ability to perform under pressure as well."

For capturing the grand prize, each team member received a $1,000 scholarship toward the Wayne State M.B.A. program and a $100 Barnes and Noble gift card. To claim the scholarship, recipients must start the M.B.A. program by fall 2018.

The judging panel included Kathleen Donald (B.S. '86), School of Business alumna and member of the Board of Visitors; Margaret Smoller, associate dean of academic and financial affairs; Linda Zaddach, assistant dean of student services; Kiantee Rupert, acting director of graduate programs; and Paul Reagan, senior lecturer of management.

Raising student awareness about the power of big data analytics

Natalia Kumar, a senior dual-majoring in ISM and marketing, and Shylan Ghoujeghi, also a senior ISM major, are co-presidents of the recently formed Information Technology Organization and are the creative duo behind the event.  Together they wrote the case, handled logistics and directed the day’s competition.

"Our goal with the Big Data Analytics Challenge was to raise awareness of big data analytics and inbound marketing within the School of Business," said Kumar. "We hope the event sparked an interest in big data analytics for some of the students and inspired them to further develop their skills making them more marketable to industry."

The Wayne State University is in the process of expanding its academic offerings in big data. For more information, please contact Toni Somers, interim chair of the Department of Management and Information Systems, at 313-577-8598 or

For photos of the Big Data Analytics Challenge, please visit the School of Business on Flickr.

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