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Darla Moore School of Business

Master Modeler Competition 2022

The Master Modeler Competition is an academic challenge and case competition that allows graduate students to gain real-world experience solving a business problem for a nonprofit or a community-driven organization. 

As part of the competition, students will:

  • Work on a complex business or community issue
  • Gain real experience in data science
  • Contribute positively to society and community causes
  • Learn how to collaborate with other disciplines
  • Meet industry leaders and analytics/data science hiring managers

The 2022 competition will focus on helping foster care youth in South Carolina. The event is hosted by the University of South Carolina in partnership with Georgia Tech. Student teams from both universities are invited to compete. Round 1 entries are due Friday, Feb. 11, and winners will be announced Thursday, March 31. 

Prizes will be awarded to the top teams from the University of South Carolina and Georgia Tech. Each school will award two prizes: a first place prize and a second-place  prize. In addition, one team will be named the overall winner for the event and will earn an additional $1,000 on top of their first-place winnings. The overall winning team prize can be awarded to a team from either school. 

  • First place: $4,000 for the top team at each school
  • Second place: $2,500 for second-place team at each school
  • Overall Competition Winner: $1,000 bonus 
  1. Competitors must be a current, active graduate or doctoral student enrolled in the spring 2022 semester.
  2. Operate within a team environment with two to four members. Only one doctoral student is permitted per team. 
  3. All teams must be comprised of members from their own institution, defined as:
    1. University of South Carolina
    2. Georgia Tech

Note: Teams within schools can be interdisciplinary.

  1. All submission deadlines must be met.
  2. All work must be original.
  3. Teams may not collaborate with other teams.
  4. Data can be augmented only by open source resources.
  5. Paid consulting, advice, suggestions, coaching or other support are not allowed.
  6. Teams may be disqualified by the competition administrators in the event such as unsportsmanlike conduct, ethical concerns or other reasons.
  7. Round 1 submissions limited to the first 20 per institution (20 max from UofSC and 20 max from Georgia Tech).
  8. At least one person from your team is required to join and represent your team in the competition GroupMe by Feb. 11.
  9. Teams moving from Round 1 to the Finalist Round must include the same team members for both rounds.
  10. Winning prize money will be distributed equally to each team member.
Round 1: Entries due Feb. 11

Your team will need to produce a 10-minute video that discusses how you would develop a model based on the business solution outlined below. Videos must be saved to YouTube as unlisted and viewable by anyone with the link. Include what content your team thinks makes sense. Videos typically include a walk-through of the analytics project including stages like problem framing, data acquisition and cleaning, choosing an analytics method, etc.

Please develop your proposal approach based on the following business solution:

Foster care youth age out of the system at 18 and become homeless; this should never happen. South Carolina consistently has approximately 100 youth age out of the foster care system each year. Of those, one-third become homeless.

As of 2020, there is guaranteed Section 8 housing available through HUD for any youth at risk of homelessness. However, some agencies do not order any, or do not order adequate, vouchers to cover their community's needs.

Develop a model using data from multiple nonprofit agencies and community and/or area-based data (including population, socioeconomics, need estimates, etc.) to describe and explain the attributes, behaviors, characteristics and other factors related to agency adoption levels for accepting housing vouchers to distribute to youth in need. Feel free to leverage diffusion of innovation theory as an initial starting framework.

Please submit once per team for your final Round 1 materials, and note that no analysis occurs until Round 2/Finalist Round. See Competition Rules for more information. 

Finalist Round

Finalists will be asked to conduct an analysis leveraging the data provided to help answer a specific business situation related to the Round 1 prompt. You can use whichever analytics tools you have at your disposal and your team can also add open-source data as you see fit. Details will be emailed to your team lead.

Winners will be announced Thursday, March 31.

Looking for teammates? Join the private MMC LinkedIn group to connect with fellow UofSC students and form teams across South Carolina colleges. 

Special thanks to our prize sponsors South Carolina Student Loan and Domo


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

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