“I think I speak for everyone when I say we learned a lot during this competition.”
Kettering University’s team took first place in the Solutions Showcase category of the inaugural Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) MobilityForward: AI Mini-Challenge.
The team of seven also won third place in the Stakeholder Presentation category and fourth overall in the virtual competition that took place Oct. 25–26. Twelve universities from across the country and one from Venezuela participated in the event.
The competition is designed to encourage students “to think critically about and apply data science techniques to emerging technology issues relevant to the mobility industry,” according to the SAE website. Students were given data and charged with identifying questions with social implications and creating predictive models to address those questions.
In Kettering’s case, students had one year of data about traffic incidents in Michigan. Their model predicted 76 percent of the collisions based on variables such as intersection location, time and date. The students then designed a plan for an app that would suggest alternative routes to users based on the probability of collisions.
“The confidence and the way they presented the information was very impressive,” said Dr. Omar Malik, one of the team’s faculty advisers.
Tyler Bourassa (’23, Management) participated to learn more about data analytics. He said he’s glad he joined the team.
“The competition was a little different than I thought it would be. SAE provided a very open-ended problem for us to address,” he said. “By doing this, it made it difficult for us to gauge if our solution was addressing the problem or not. Overall, the challenge was a fun, exciting way to learn data analytics.”
He said the competition gave him a deeper appreciation of Python software and its advanced capabilities.
“Our programming team did a fantastic job using Python to our advantage in the challenge,” Bourassa said. “I look forward to learning more about Python over the next year and contributing more on the programming front next year.”
William Moss (’24, CS) said the competition taught the team about more than data analytics.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say we learned a lot during this competition,” he said. “Naturally, we all learned various technical skills, such as building a predictive model, building an app and writing a stakeholder report. But we also learned soft skills. For example, we learned firsthand the importance of effective communication and strong leadership in a team. We also learned how important planning and setting deadlines is.”
Participating in the competition introduced Jeremiah Thompson (’22, IE and CS) to app development.
“I had never done anything like that, and I learned the language on a whim,” he said. “It makes me want to explore more of that, and it’s something I never saw myself doing.”
The team, which consisted of students from A and B Sections, had about a month to prepare for the competition.
“We were really pleased to see the general Bulldog attitude to figure out how to get it done,” said Dr. Michael Farmer, the other faculty adviser. “… We’re really pleased to see how well the kids formed teams and shined. It speaks so well to the idea of the experiential learning and team-based learning we have here at Kettering.”