Students and judges at 2018 Data Ethics Case Competition are (front row) Rob Day, Techlab; Stacey Clifton; and Matt Slifko; (back row) Rich Wokutch, professor of management; Davon Woodard; and John Grant, Palantir.

Three Ph.D. students in the Urban Computing Certificate (UrbComp) program decided that the 2018 Data Ethics Case Competition would be a good way to apply what they have been learning in one of the program’s courses, GRAD 5134: Ethics and Professionalism in Data Science, this spring.

So they teamed up to enter the competition, sponsored by the Center for Business Intelligence & Analytics, which bridges classroom learning with a real-life situation and important questions for the future and encourages diverse trans-disciplinary teams.

The UrbComp team — Stacey Clifton, a sociology major; Matthew Slifko, a statistics major, and Davon Woodard, a student in the planning, governance, and globalization program in the School of Public and International Affairs and a graduate research assistant at the Global Forum of Urban and Regional Resilience – were awarded second place during the final round of the case competition. The award carries a $1,500 scholarship.

The competition began in February. The teams were given a case history that included two pending projects a company could choose from and asked to analyze the opportunities, ethics, and potential risks of the decisions; recommend how, or whether, to proceed with these projects; and carefully explain the reasons for the recommendations because they may be used to construct criteria for making project decisions in the future. Each team created a three-page executive summary and made a final presentation last Friday.

The Ethical Data Decisions in Practice competition was initiated this year. It was also sponsored in part by Palantir Technologies, the Pamplin Business Leadership Center, Cherry Bakaert, Partners in Financial Planning, and the Pamplin College of Business.