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North-West University students take top-prize at 2019 MiWay 24-hour Hackathon

April 15, 2019 • Education, Southern Africa, Top Stories

North-West University students take top-prize at 2019 MiWay 24-hour Hackathon

Winners of the 2019 MiWay 24-hour Hackathon.

This past weekend saw 25 top Honours and final-year students from five leading Universities from around South Africa take part in the 24 hours hackathon to conceptualise, design and build an actuarial model.

On 13 -14 April 2019, the students took on the challenge of developing a predictive customer retention programme for MiWay insurance – the catch is that they have only 24 hours to think about, design and build a focused customer retention programme from supplied data.

“For the students, the Hackathon is about testing their financial modelling skills and seeing how they shape against stiff competition from students with similar capabilities. For MiWay, the accent is on finding the best skills for taking the company into the future- a future that is becoming increasingly technical and focused on producing complex, mathematically-based solutions for the financial services sector, said Jaco Cloete, Head of Actuarial at MiWay.

The top prize of R20 000 for the first time went to duo, Matt Lourens and Dehan Opperman from North-West University, Master students, in Business Analytics/ Data Mining; Christian Hitchcock, from the ‘University of Pretoria, Honour student in actuarial science’ the runner-up won R5 000 with Lebogang Moremi, ‘The University of Pretoria, Honour student in actuarial science’ taking the third-place winning R3 000.

The Winners:

1st place winner – Matt Lourens and Dehan Opperman from North-West University, Master students, in Business Analytics/ Data Mining

Matt – “The challenge was tough; we took a very long time to even understand the problem. There was some great help from the MiWay staff. We included somethings that we have learnt before or been exposed to and we learnt a bunch of new thongs as well, this was a great learning experience. It was a nice opportunity for us to see where our knowledge level is based on data science industry standards. We are excited to win, the main goal for us was to learn and the prize money is a great added benefit.

Dehan – “I didn’t know what to expect coming into this, so finding out if we could work together was big for us, as that is what we are used to. We took a really long time to understand the problem, we got a lot of help from the MiWay staff. The challenge made you think about problem-solving as a skill set. Learning and getting experience was our goal, It wasn’t all about the money, but it is a great bonus”.

2nd place winner – Christian Hitchcock, University of Pretoria, honour student in actuarial science

“Coming into the competition, I really didn’t know what to expect and I started off slowly but with the help of the MiWay staff supporting us throughout the competition, I started to get my footing in the competition and began to figure things out. The 24-hours does really go quickly. Overall it was a really good experience and It was nice to get to know the staff from MiWay”.

3rd place winner – Lebogang Moremi, University of Pretoria, Honour student in actuarial science

“The 24-hours was very gruelling, there was a lot of pressure, but it was also quite fun. It was a really nice to have the breaks and to interact with the other students; it was also nice to spend some time with some of the people who work at MiWay, I feel like they gave some insight into what is done here. The competition gave me some first-hand experience into data modelling, in terms of what I could be doing, next year which is great. I am very, very happy about winning the R3,000.00 but was experience was the top prize for me”.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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