Learn by Doing – the New Education| Interview with Prof. Angel Marchev

Right before the Academia Datathon we interviewed one of the university mentors and an initiator of the University Data Science Challenge, Angel Marchev who is an Associate Professor at University of National and World Economy. Prof. Marchev has Ph.D. in applications of computer simulations in business and he pursued a career as a Bank analyst but found it is too formalistic and not enough challenge. Marchev Jr. Is at least tenth generation university professor and it was only natural to choose such career path. 

Prof. Marchev,  why do you believe in the idea of organizing Datathons in the universities?

Universities are the natural target of such initiatives. Not only because there are students, but also because the university has all the necessary conditions for organizing the event. Also, the role of the active lecturer who has earned the respect of his alumni is to improve the relationship between the business and the academy, but at the same time to look for any alternative opportunities for an educational process.

What is the Academia Datathon and what do the students learn from such an event?

The Academia Datathon is a 48-hour team challenge for solving a real business case trough modeling data. In the time of solving the assignment, the students have to apply a variety of knowledge in the field of econometrics, statistics, data analysis, mathematics and the specific field of the case. The difference of Academia Datathon from other hackathons is that the participants here work and co-exist in locations all over the world. Besides technical skills, the students also develop interpersonal skills because of the need for intensive internal group and external communication and also because of the necessity for an informal and formal presentation of their ideas to others (and eventually to the whole world).

How does the Datathon flow? Tell us more about how the students manage to succeed and learn from the challenge in such a short time!

The challenge is compressed in a very narrow range of time and every student’s team is extremely motivated to win the challenge over the other competitors.  This is why the students are highly committed to not sleep, read at least 20 scientific papers, learn new programming environments, and exchange thousands of ideas through the communication channels. In the course of Datathon, however, there are not only mathematics and computers. The atmosphere is fun and the mood is high as most people could not even imagine the kind of elation that comes with learning and constantly improving your skills during the 48 hours. There is a continuous dialogue between everyone – in the team, with other teams, with other locations around the world, with mentors and friends online.

What is the future place of the Datathons and Hackathons as a part of student education? What is needed to reach a professional level in the field of technologies?

Honestly, the entire learning process in each discipline can and should be transformed into a so-called “learn by doing” concept. In this case, the Datathon is a superb form of training. I see it in the direction of searching for a longer-lasting effect – by presenting team solutions, writing diploma and coursework based on the solutions, taking time to make even more precise models after the event, and so on. Of course, a Datathon will not make the students experts. The main aspect they lack is a practical experience that can only be achieved by engaging in many real business projects, but the Datathon, among its other benefits, boosts the interest in further challenges.

What is your advice to the students who will join the Academia Datathon?

I would give them two pieces of advice:

– there is no ideal solution, and even if you think you have not done well, there is certainly something to show; in other words- Do Not Give Up!

– seek communication with everyone – mentors, friends, rivals, teammates and search for information from multiple sources, because the solution of the challenge is not the implementation of a method or programming code, but the creation of a creative and original idea.

The Academia Datathon

The Challenge is happening between 27-29th of April and it will bring more than 25 mentors from all over the world who will share their knowledge in the fields of fintech, cryptocurrency and Data Science

Don’t miss the knowledge sharing and follow our live streams to get your portion of the Data Science and Cryptocurrency!

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