Third annual Rice Datathon set for Feb. 5-6

Students will solve problems ranging from COVID-19 trends to company-sponsored tracks.

Datathon illustration

For a bunch of data-savvy undergrads, organizing the third annual Rice Datathon under pandemic-lockdown conditions was an unexpectedly pleasant experience.

“It’s really been fun,” said Yuchen “Irene” Gu, a junior in computer science (CS) and one of the event’s three co-directors.

“We’re not starting from scratch. It’s all been done before, so making it virtual has not been that difficult.”

Some 250 participants from universities around the country are expected to take part in the 24-hour virtual competition on Feb. 5-6. Students will solve problems ranging from COVID-19 and Houston/Texas-related trends to company-sponsored tracks by Chevron, Quantlab and 2nd.MD.

“Last year the Datathon was held in Duncan Hall. That’s how these things are traditionally done. This year it will be done on Zoom, with people working from home or wherever they are,” said Ryan Draper, another co-director and a sophomore in CS.

Draper noted that the three co-directors meet virtually and have never met in person. 

The prize for the first-place winner will be $400 per team member; second place, $200 per team member; third place, $100 per team member. Other prizes include an iPad, Amazon Fire Tablets and gift cards.

“Going virtual has made some aspects easier. It gives us more flexibility. We don’t have to worry about having a place to set up and making sure everyone gets there,” said Neil Chopra, the third co-director and a sophomore in neuroscience.

The opening ceremony begins at 5 p.m. and hacking begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Hacking will conclude at 3 p.m. Saturday and prizes will be awarded from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday. 

The Datathon is sponsored by the Data to Knowledge Lab (D2K) at Rice, 2nd.MD, Chevron, Quantlab, and

Click here to register for the Datathon.