Derby maths students take top ten place at global competition

24 July 2017

A team of mathematics students from the University of Derby has taken a top ten place at the 2017 IBM Watson Analytics Global Competition 2017 for its report on Scotland’s carbon footprint.

The team of third year students, which included Claire Barratt, Thomas Robson and Jake Tuck, with academic support from lecturer Rich Conniss, was ranked ninth out of 210 registered teams and was the only team from a UK university to be ranked in the top ten.

To enter the competition, the students were required to apply Watson Analytics, a cloud-based data analysis and visualisation service, to come up with a solution to an environmental issue. Each team submitted a detailed report and a 5 to 10 minute video presentation explaining what they thought could be done, which was judged based on the creativity of the solution, quality of the recommendations, expected benefits for users, and the presentation of the submission. 

The Derby team chose to examine the Scottish Government’s plans to reduce its Carbon Footprint. Their report supported the Scottish Government’s ethos to reduce its contribution to Global Warming by identifying key contributors to Scotland’s Carbon Footprint. The team also identified that other factors, including International Aviation and Public Sector emissions needed to be considered.

Speaking about the award, Claire Barratt, said: “It's fantastic that we've been placed in the top ten and all our hard work has paid off. There was a lot to Watson Analytics, which meant we had to learn all the different features and we had to find correct data sets for the competition which took a few weeks.

“However it has been worth it as the skills learned will help us in the future. I will be joining IBM as a Technology Consultant in August after graduating, so there is a possibility of carrying on with Watson Analytics development.”

Commenting on the team’s success, Richard Self, Senior Lecturer in Analytics and Governance at the University of Derby, added: “This is a fantastic achievement and a great way for students to develop an interest in and understanding of the power of data.

“We were the second University outside the USA to gain university wide access to the Watson Analytics Academic Programme, which gives all University of Derby students free access to the Watson Analytics system.”