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2021 Student Data Science Competition: Call for Participation

Information Session


The 2021 TAMIDS Data Science Competition concerns the role of money in US Presidential Elections. The key idea of democracy is that every citizen should have input, via a vote, as to who is elected. Enormous amounts of money are expended by political campaigns to engage with voters, and so fundraising has become a major activity by candidates. Donations are an additional way for constituents to get involved in political races. Unions and corporations are able to donate though Political Action Committees (PACs), while the 2010 Citizen’s United ruling by the US Supreme Court has removed caps on corporate donations via PACs and allowed campaign ads to be published or broadcast anonymously.

In the 2021 Data Science Competition, student teams will develop models to predict the impact on electoral outcomes of contributions and spending by campaigns and donors, and use these to develop recommendations for where funds should be directed. Students will be encouraged to identify metrics for effectiveness of donations and campaign spending. What characterizes the most effective donation or spending? Where should it be directed?  Is this effectiveness getting more or less pronounced over time? What other factors and data may need to be brought into the analysis?


Students will work in teams composed of 1 to 5 members.  The competition will be split into two divisions: one for graduate students and one for undergraduate students. Any team that contains at least one graduate student will be assigned to the graduate division. Teams have the option of using a faculty mentor to facilitate problem solving (competition judges are not allowed to mentor teams). Contestants will have four weeks to complete their analysis and submit a written report, together with supplementary materials, such as (but not limited to): a code or data repository, a Jupyter notebook, a dashboard, or an app. From these entries, judges will select the finalist teams who will present their analysis at a final event at which the ultimate winning teams will be decided and announced. 


This competition is open to both graduate and undergraduate students from all majors at Texas A&M University. Competitors must be enrolled as a student at Texas A&M University during the Spring 2021 semester.  

Getting Started

Detailed Guidelines

Competition Process

2021 TAMIDS Data Science Competition comprises five phases as follows:

Stage 1: Registration and preparation

Competitors will register using the form and acknowledge their understanding and intent to follow the rules of the competition. Registration will open on Monday, February 15, 2021 and close on March 1, 2021, 11:59 pm CT.  All team members must individually register otherwise they will not be included in the competition. The competition will be conducted through e-campus.

An online information session will be held on February 24, 2021, 6-8pm. This is open to all, registered or not. The session will feature talks on: (i) the competition organization; (ii) orientation use of data in election analysis; (iii) best practices for competing by previous winners.

Stage 2: Team solution development

Instructions and information concerning the data set will be sent to competitors March 3, 2021. 

A midpoint working session will be held online on Monday March 15, 2021, 6:00pm-8:00pm to provide technical advice for registered competitors.

BEST PROGRESS GRAPHIC PRIZES: Teams may optionally submit a one-page summary graphic of their initial work via e-campus by Friday March 12, 2021, 11:59pm. The graphic must include the team name. Prizes of $250 will be awarded to each of the top three team entries; these will be announced at the midpoint event on Monday March 15, 2021, 6:00pm-8:00pm.

Stage 3: Report and submission deadline

Submissions should be in the form of a report in PDF format.  The main body of the report should not exceed 10  pages, and teams may submit supplementary materials such as (but not limited to): a code or data repository, a Jupyter notebook, a dashboard, or an app. A rubric will be supplied to registered competitors. Reports must be submitted through e-campus by the deadline of March 31, 2021, at 11:59 pm.

Stage 4: Selection of finalists 

After the close of the submission period, judges will review all entries and select participants to advance to the final round of the competition. Finalist teams will be notified through email by April 7, 2021.

Stage 5: Final presentations, evaluation, and prize awards 

Finalist teams will prepare a presentation for in-person delivery of their findings and solutions to the judging panel at the online final event on April 14, 2021, 6-9pm. Judges will review and select the winning teams based on their written report and presentation. The competition winners will be announced at the final event.


Graduate Division:

  • First Placed Team: $1500.00
  • Second Paced Team: $1000.00
  • Third Placed Team: $500.00

Undergraduate Division: 

  • First Placed Team: $1500.00
  • Second Paced Team: $1,000.00
  • Third Placed Team: $500.00

Special Team Prizes:

  • Best presentation design: $250
  • Best use of additional data: $250
  • Best supplementary materials: $250

Timeline Summary

  • Monday February 15, 2021: Registration opens at
  • Wednesday February 24, 2021, 6-8pm: Kickoff online information session
  • Monday March 1, 2021: Registration closes 11:59pm
  • Wednesday March 3, 2021: Data available on eCampus and competition begins
  • Friday March 12, 2021, 11:59pm: Submission deadline for (optional) 1 page progress summary graphic (via e-campus)
  • Monday March 15, 2021: Online Midpoint event and help session; announcement of prizes for progress summary graphic
  • Wednesday March 31, 2021: Submission deadline 11:59pm
  • Wednesday April 7, 2021: Finalists announced
  • Wednesday April 14, 2021: Online final event 6-9pm with finalist  presentations and awards.

Organizing Team


TAMIDS acknowledges generous support for the 2021 Data Science Competition


Please contact Ms. Jennifer South at with any questions or concerns