IS Students Take Home $1,500 after Winning BI Competition

PROVO, Utah – Oct 26, 2018 – A team of four BYU Marriott information systems students is seeing signs. Dollar signs, that is. The group took home $1,500 to split among themselves after taking first place in the Wolff BI Competition, which was held on 28–29 September. The on-campus event was hosted by the BYU Association for Information Systems and sponsored by the Wolff Company, a private equity firm based out of Phoenix.

The cash prize was certainly a great motivation, but the monetary reward was only a bonus for Nathan Marrs, who gained much more from competing.

“One of the main benefits of participating in the competition was that it was a tough and demanding but incredibly fun experience to learn from,” says Marrs, an MISM student from Redondo Beach, California. “I got to exercise innovation, leadership, software engineering, team development, and more. From these experiences, I am now more confident in my abilities to achieve whatever I set out to do.”

Marrs also had the chance to expand his network by interacting with successful professionals from multiple industries and is now pursuing the team’s idea further for his MISM capstone project.

In addition to Marrs, the winning team consisted of Nolan Maddy of Hamilton, Ohio; Michael Shim of Provo; and Tomiris Mollinet of Moscow. Nearly forty students of various majors participated, making up a total of ten teams that differed in size.

Teams gathered for an introduction meeting on the afternoon of 28 September, where they were given information regarding the competition. The only requirement was to build something with technology that related to one of the following industries: sports, blockchain, insurance, or healthcare. Each team was then given twenty-four hours to prepare an idea to present.

After conducting a three-hour brainstorming session, the winning team decided that it would present on a blockchain for the used-car market. A blockchain is a public ledger of transactions typically used for items such as cryptocurrencies and diamonds.

The idea was to create a website detailing a complete and unchangeable history of a car, such as when a car transferred ownership, got damaged, or had its oil changed. This would create more trust in the used-car market between buyer and seller since the true value of the car would be easily understood after a review of its history.

Group members researched and gathered used-car data to help them create reports and a prediction model about the growth of the industry. Marrs even worked through the night, staying up until five in the morning to build a minimum viable product website.

The efforts proved to be a success when the team was awarded first place for the innovative adaptation and use of blockchain technology. According to Marrs, the group’s presentation stood out because the team chose to use business intelligence as a means of validating a business idea rather than simply presenting a business intelligence solution.

In addition to the grand prize, six individual awards were handed out, three of which were earned by members of the winning team: Maddy for best application of Power BI, Shim for best application of machine learning, and Marrs for best application of blockchain.

“Winning the competition speaks to the education provided by BYU Marriott,” Maddy says. “The information systems professors are outstanding. They push the students and have a unique understanding and balance of industry experience and academia, which makes the classes applicable. Every class that I have had in the program has given me a real skill that I can use in my career.”

IS Team
BYU Marriott students Michael Shim, Nolan Maddy, Nathan Marrs, and Tomiris Mollinet (not pictured) won the Wolff BI Competition, which was held at BYU on September 28-29.

Writer: Brendan Gwynn