TLI grad students to experience Democratic National Convention

Dynamite Data Diggers Team: Arielle Mabon, Arush Saxena, Kurt Homan, Susan Ely and Kirti Chintalapudi. A group of Technology Leadership and Innovation graduate students are headed to the site of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25-28, courtesy of SAP.

A five-student Purdue team won the overall award in the SAP Project Dream Election 2016 competition July 1. The contest challenged teams to use SAP software to uncover insights about election data that could be used to encourage better voter turnout for elections.

As their team name suggests, the “Dynamite Data Diggers”used exploratory data analysis to examine issues important to young and underrepresented voters in several swing states. They determined the most important issues for their target audiences were economic health and educational quality.

“Big data is a huge challenge right now. There is so much data available, especially through social media, and top performing organizations are using data mining techniques to turn raw data points into actionable insights,” said team member Kirti Chintalapudi.

They submitted infographics and a video to explain their approach and how they would use the information to educate voters during the election.

“As every challenge presents opportunities, the ability to draw patterns, connect the dots and predict through big data analytics offers great untapped potential,” said team member Arush Saxena.

While social media creates so much data for each user, team members believe it is an integral part of reaching younger voters, which was one of the goals of the SAP Project Dream Election competition.

“Using social media platforms for civic engagement is extremely powerful,” Chintalapudi said. “We were amazed at how much interest we garnered to get people to vote in the competition. We could use that same approach to get the younger population to vote.”

Four of the team members will travel to Philadelphia to experience the atmosphere of a major party political convention, participate in some of the affiliated activities, and attend the SAP “We the Future” summit July 26. During the summit, they will share the stage with members of the Democratic Future Forum and discuss the challenges of civil engagement in the digital world.

Chintalapudi said the composition of the team helped strengthen their competition entry and it will broaden their outlook as they discuss issues with the country’s Democratic leaders.

“Our team is so diverse; we have four ethnicities within our team. That set us apart. That’s what our department is about, too,” she said. “When you work on projects together, you have so many different perspectives within the group.”

In addition to Chintalapudi and Saxena, team members are Susan Ely, Kurtis Homan, and Arielle Mabon. Edie Schmidt, professor of technology leadership and innovation, served as their advisor.

SAP and the Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation are providing transportation to the convention, accommodations and meals for the team.