Data Jams

What is a Data Jam?

A Data Jam is a 2 to 3 hour event at which School of Information students who are interested in data analysis respond to real-world data sets to solve problems presented in the data and discover further intriguing hidden information for sponsoring companies to inform their business decisions.

Data Jams are coordinated by the Student Organization for Data Analytics (SODA), with support from the UMSI Career Development Office.

What is the goal of a Data Jam?

For students:

  • Get comfortable with different kinds of data sets
  • Develop a statistical approach to solve real-world problems
  • Develop programming skills
  • Learn from peers through collaboration/team experience
  • Practice presenting a dataset and its findings to others

For employers:

  • Innovative student approach to analyzing a data set to impact your business in more meaningful ways
  • Cutting edge tech skills to solve business problems/challenges
  • Deeper observation into student talent, skills in action, and collaboration for your recruiting/organizational needs
  • Outcomes could include data collection, analysis, and presentation

What is a data problem?

A data problem contains pre-determined questions to a given data set, usually in tabular form, and also discover interesting unknown patterns found during the exploration. The questions may be quantitative, requiring statistical understanding and modeling, or qualitative, with an interpreted conclusion drawn from the data or a visual representation.

The Data Jam

Below is a general outline of a Data Jam event:

  1. Welcome: students arrive, get some food, chat and find seats (typically, about a dozen students participate)
  2. Introduction: a SODA representative introduces the dataset with the sponsoring employer
  3. Presentation of the problem: some pre-determined problems are provided by the employer, with different difficulty levels to cater to students with various data experience
  4. Problem solving: using the programing language of their own choice, students try to solve these problems individually or in groups
  5. Brainstorming: after finishing with the given problems, students brainstorm to find whether some interesting patterns or conclusions can be discovered in the data
  6. Creating the deliverable: groups work together to create the deliverable in whatever format was specified by the sponsoring employer
  7. Presentation: students share their answers, thoughts, and brainstorming results with each other as well as the sponsoring employer, presenting their visualization of the dataset

Possible Data Jam deliverables

Creation of interactive maps, content analysis of YouTube comments, creation of heat maps of populations reached, proposed new database schemes, and much more!

Data Jam employer responsibilities

  • Commit to bringing 1-2 representatives to campus for 2-3 hours for the entire duration of the Data Jam
  • Present a challenge/problem, provide a data set, and be clear with deliverable expectations
  • Provide funding for food during the session
  • Provide feedback to students, if appropriate

How to submit a Data Jam proposal

If you would like to sponsor a Data Jam at UMSI, please complete this form. All Data Jam proposals will be reviewed within 2-3 business days.

If you have questions or would like more information on UMSI Data Jams, please contact