Analytics Team from Illinois Tech Scores High in Global Competition



By Scott Lewis
Curiosity Cup Contestants: [From left] Anindya Sinha, Siddhant Iyer, and Sonam Singh

Three graduate students from Stuart School of Business at Illinois Institute of Technology teamed up to make a strong showing in the 2024 Curiosity Cup, a global analytics competition sponsored by the analytics software firm SAS.

The team, named Astute Hawks, achieved the 13th-highest score in the competition, which drew 107 teams from 19 countries. The team’s score narrowly missed the mark to be included in the finals of the contest due to ties among teams with higher scores.

Team members Anindya Sinha and Siddhant Iyer are from the Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program and Sonam Singh is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in Business Analytics degree. The trio formed the team after taking the Quantitative Marketing Models course at Stuart that is taught by Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing Dinakar Jayarajan, who served as the team’s faculty adviser.

“The course ignited my interest in further exploring SAS applications, particularly in demand modeling and price response analysis,” says Iyer. “In the competition we navigated through challenges of managing large datasets, refining our data cleaning techniques, experimenting with multiple analytical approaches, and formulating insights about what drives sales for used electric vehicles in Washington.”

In the Curiosity Cup each team prepares a scientific paper detailing the results of a data analysis project that it has conducted using a publicly available dataset and SAS software. The entries are evaluated and scored by a panel of analytics industry experts. Teams that score high enough to advance also prepare video presentations of their projects for the final round of the competition.

The camaraderie and teamwork throughout the competition were highlights, Singh says. “Working with real-world data, from the initial cleaning stages to drawing meaningful conclusions, proved to be a profound learning experience and effectively bridged the gap between theoretical concepts and their practical application in analytics.”

“My favorite takeaway from the competition is realizing how tricky working with data can be,” says Sinha. “While anyone can learn to code, the real magic lies in knowing how to weave those numbers into compelling stories and actionable insights. It’s not just about the data; it’s about the story it tells and the decisions it drives.”

Photo: [From left] Anindya Sinha, Siddhant Iyer, and Sonam Singh.