For the second time since 2003, the North Carolina State University Statistics Department hosted StatFest 2014, a one day regional conference aimed at encouraging undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups to consider careers and graduate studies in the statistical sciences. StatFest was first held in 2001 at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and has since been held at different institutions around the country. On September 27, 2014, over 50 students attended the conference that covered presentations on statistics in government, the private sector, and academia. Current graduate students gave tips for a rewarding graduate student experience in a closed-door (no faculty allowed) environment. During the poster session, several of the undergraduate attendees presented on research topics in statistics that involved sports, health, finance, and engineering. A link for the full program that lists all persons and institutions who participated is found on the American Statistical Association Community website: http://community.amstat.org/cmis/events/statfest2014.
The success of the event is evident from the testimonials of the participants.
A couple of the faculty attendees remarked:
“It was really an ‘eye opener’ for me as well as my students. As I listened it became apparent to me that the statistics field offers lots of potential for our students pursuing academic pathways in STEM.”
“Thank you so much for having us at StatFest. It was a wonderful event and I’m glad that my students could have that experience.”
A few of the student attendees commented:
“Before coming to StatFest, I had minimal knowledge about statistics. I had just started dabbling in statistics courses at my home institution to find that I had an interest in it. After attending StatFest, I received information from the speakers and presenters and also from current PhD statistics students, that helped me narrow down the possibilities and choices I have for a future career in statistics.”
“StatFest was a conference that had a more profound impact on me than I expected. It was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ in a sense, in terms of it being the last experience that cemented my convictions to apply to graduate programs in statistics and biostatistics. Sometimes you have an inner belief and drive to do something, like ask the girl you are crushing on out for a date, but it takes the final push from your peers to make it happen; that’s what StatFest did for me, in an academic sense, and for that I am forever grateful.”
The success of StatFest 2014 is the result of passionate and dedicated individuals who helped to plan and coordinate the event. The StatFest organizing committee: Neal Jeffries (chair), Renee Moore and Marcia Gumpertz (local organizing committee co-chairs), Beimar Iriarte, Nagambal Shah, Brian Millen, and Sydeaka Watson. The NC State hosts: Jackie Hughes-Oliver, Kim Weems, Consuelo Arellano, Montse Fuentes, and Dan Solomon. The NC State student volunteers: Eric Maxon, Marcela Alfaro-Cordoba, Matt Austin, Jami Jackson, Palpasa Manandhar, Suchit Mehrotra, Bo Ning, and Munir Winkel. In addition, Wendy Giddens for logistical support.
StatFest 2014 was sponsored by the American Statistical Association (ASA) and Abbott Labs. The ASA was the biggest sponsor. More pictures of the event can be viewed here: http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-ZgbvC/.