Working behind the scenes with athletes, Hall of Famers, affiliates and crew members
Data science students from Houghton College have a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the upcoming Super Bowl 50, working behind the scenes with NFL On Locations Experiences Feb. 2 through 9 through a partnership with sports business students and Dr. Dexter Davis ’82 from the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The group of seven Houghton students will be able to apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world setting and gain experience in their field while meeting and working alongside NFL athletes, Hall of Famers, affiliates and crew members during their time in San Francisco.
“This is the first time that our students will work behind the scenes with NFL On Location Experiences to explore sports business and data science opportunities,” said Carmen McKell, founding director of the Center for Data Science Analytics at Houghton. “Our students will learn how analytics are used in the planning of one of the largest sporting events of the year.”
Students will be serving as event coordinators for the group, scheduling meetings with executives or collecting data for research projects or independent studies. Other activities will involve working with Dr. Davis as he manages hospitality events and directs player appearances.
“Current and former players (typically Hall of Famers) come to the hospitality events and do ‘meet and greets’ with the attendees,” said Davis. “The students will function as ‘personal assistants’ for these players.”
Students will also be working shifts at the NFL Fan Zone, an interactive theme park for fans.
Davis commented, “Students will have an opportunity to observe how the NFL meets the needs of its many fans who will not have an opportunity to attend the actual game. There is a variety of different activities sponsored by many different NFL corporate sponsors, all of whom will be collecting data for future use.”
Finally, while in San Francisco, the seven students will meet with Trina Chaisson, the senior product manager of a data visualization company in Palo Alto called Tableau Software, to learn about current issues and trends in data visualization.
“The combined experience of the Super Bowl and Tableau Software will give our students the advantage to seeing how data are used for decision making onsite and in real-time,” commented McKell.
Houghton students traveling to the Super Bowl include Jacob Dunnet, Anna Coryell, Ashley Schenk, Isaac Hess, Theresa Taggart, Ethan Duryea and Bjorn Webb.
A growing field, data science has many applications in a variety of disciplines. In the sports world, data science analytics can be used to anticipate and prevent player injury; supply real-time, in-game data for coaches and sports fans; and predict various aspects of the game.
Houghton College recently launched its new data science program and is one of the first liberal arts colleges in the nation to offer an undergraduate degree in data science. This opportunity is just one of many experiential learning trips Houghton data science students are able to take to complement the knowledge they gain in the classroom.