by Andrea Judy
An all-women team of Master of Science in Information Systems students from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business placed first in the SAP competition, Project Dream: Election 2016. SAP is the world’s largest enterprise software company that leads the transition to digital businesses through the use of next generation big data analytics, database platforms, business networks, and enterprise resource technologies. The competition challenged students to work in teams to analyze data and use that information to encourage voters to participate in the U.S. Presidential Election and beyond. The students had to use past or present U.S. political election data sets and create a visualization of the data. As an all-women team, the students, Asma Siddiqua, Anjali Mulchandani, Christie Potla, Sharda Diwan, Damilola Idowu, and De Angela Pitts, chose to focus on Hillary Clinton and why people are or are not supporting her.
Since the project was developed in May and June, the team focused on comparing support for the democratic nominees, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. By using data from social media the students were able to piece together opinions of the first female candidate for president from a major political party.
“We used SAP to do a Twitter analysis and get feedback from Twitter on what people thought of the candidates. It was really fun and exciting,” Damilola Idowu said. “But that data also was the hardest part, because we had to reach a decision on how to cleanse the data. Being in a team helped a lot because we came together to figure that out.”
De Angela Pitts explained how they captured the data. “We used a Twitter feed API. We applied a live feed and captured anything related to Hillary, the 2016 election or the word Sanders. We pulled specific keywords then dumped it into a file for SAP. Having the data and looking at the collective information showed exactly what the polls were showing, specifically the favorability among age groups and socio-economic groups, as well as in swing states.” Pitts said. The group was surprised to find that women viewed Clinton more harshly than men did but got confirmation that the economy and jobs ranked as the top issues for this election cycle.
While they used their data to analyze opinions of candidates, their top priority was encouraging people, especially women, to vote. “Our team was based on women in power, and telling young women to go vote!” said Asma Siddiqua of their project. The core message of their video presentation focused on the importance of voting and sharing your opinion.
As finalists, the team travelled to Philadelphia to attend the We the Future Summit, which allowed the team to meet with SAP executives as well as senators and delegates. “We attended a lunch with the senators and executives. They kept telling their assistants to take notes on our research. It was motivating to see how our insights mattered,” Siddiqua said. The chance to meet other teams and people allowed the women ample networking opportunities that helped them see the future implications of their work.
The women credit part of their success to the support they had from not just Robinson College, but also Georgia State as a whole. They were able to utilize CURVE in the Georgia State library to display their data and film their findings. “We got to tape our presentation at CURVE. We felt like we were on the news.” Diwan said. The CURVE also let them view their data in a wide format, showing everything in an easy to understand and analyze way.
For some of the women, whom are international, the most exciting aspect was getting the chance to learn about the American election process. “I was surprised by how long the campaigning lasts,” Diwan said. Their American teammates were thrilled to teach them about the election process and what the next steps of the election would be.
As the election draws towards an end, all six of the women are still eagerly watching and waiting to see if their data was correct. They watch the debates and keep a close eye on social media for opinions and ideas about what the outcome will be. Regardless of the November election, these women are proud of their win in the SAP competition.