Students Focused on International Food Safety and Security at the Eighth Annual Business Analytics Competition

Manhattan College hosted 23 teams and 88 students.

Manhattan College hosted its eighth annual Business Analytics Competition (BAC@MC) on May 22 through May 24, a three-day event featuring 23 teams and 88 students from colleges and universities around the U.S. and Canada. The teams were given a dataset to analyze from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization that focused on food security and food safety in Sub-Saharan Africa. The teams were challenged to determine who could use the analytics to further the understanding of these critical issues. Analytics Team

Min Jung Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing and the competition’s organizing committee co-chair, said that focusing on topics such as world hunger strongly aligns with the College’s Lasallian values. In past competitions, teams have analyzed data pertaining to education, electric cars and housing issues in New York City. 

“Analyzing large datasets is a critical skill that all business students need, and Manhattan College has long been at the forefront of business analytics,” said Donald Gibson, dean of the O’Malley School of Business. “What’s distinctive about this competition is taking on real world problems and moving towards solutions. We're getting bright minds focused on important social issues.” 

In this year’s competition, the Jaspers team was one of seven finalists and earned an honorable mention citation for best poster. Competing for the Jaspers was Sean Gathman ’23, a business analytics major, Kaylie Guthy ’23, a computer information systems major, Daina John ’23, a computer information systems major and Nick Tabert ’23, a computer information systems major. The team’s faculty advisor was Alin Tomoiaga, Ph.D., an associate professor of accounting, computer information systems and law. The event's other co-chair was Haoran Zhang, assistant professor economics and finance.

The first-place winner was Loyola University Chicago, the second-place winner was Ramapo College of New Jersey and the third-place winner was Trinity University (TX).  The first-place team was awarded $5,000 in prize money with $2,500 going to the runner-up and $1,000 awarded for third place. 

The competition was divided into two phases. In the first phase, the students were asked to develop a model that could be used to analyze food safety in Sub-Saharan Africa and to answer a series of questions including “how well does you model fit the data for the last twenty years” and “what does your model tell us about the future of food safety in this part of Africa.” On May 23, team members presented posters summarizing their analysis and answers. Poster Presentation

In phase two, the teams were provided with additional information and questions to respond to and were asked to create slide presentations that reflected their findings. Seven teams, including Manhattan College, were selected as finalists. All teams presented in front of a group of professional judges in the semi-final round.  The particpating judges are industry leaders in the fields of analytics, business and technology and work in a variety of corporate and academic settings, including Microsoft and Salesforce. 

The event’s keynote address was delivered by Ayan Bhattacharya, the managing director at Deloitte Consulting, a prominent leader specializing in artificial intelligence and digital transformation. The event’s sponsor was Nick Tommasino ’79, former chairman and CEO of Deloitte and Touche. 

“We sincerely hope that this event continues to grow and attract even more participants in the future,” Kim said.