SAS top data scientist competition trains guns on UK energy market

A “top data scientist” competition, sponsored by analytics company SAS, is training its focus on a UK energy crisis

A “top data scientist” competition, sponsored by analytics company SAS, is training its focus on a UK energy crisis predicted for the coming winters.

According to the National Grid and the energy regulator Ofgem, as reported on the BBC website last year, in 2011 the UK had a buffer between energy supply and demand of 16%. That is expected to fall to 2% in 2015.

SAS has set up a Top Data Scientist Competition to help solve the problem by analysing an open-data set from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. More than 100 participants have registered to compete, and the analytics firm is encouraging more. It is making its software free to participants.

The UK and Ireland competition also said the company aims to promote career possibilities for those looking to study STEM subjects. SAS claimed a shortage in data scientists in the UK over the next four years would amount to of 132,000.

The competition has attracted interest from student and professional data scientists, including employees of some of the UK’s largest financial, energy and commercial organisations, as well as British and Irish universities.

The judging panel includes Liam Fox MP, artist Stanza, and Kenneth Cukier, data editor at The Economist newspaper.

Mee Chi So, Lecturer in Marketing Analytics at the University of Southampton, said in the SAS press statement: “We are seeing industry looking for more people with skills in data analytics, whether that is at the basic level of merging data to the ability to manipulate and model huge data sets. We are in a data driven world and so need more people to recognise its inherent value and importance to the way business, government and society operates.”

Mark Wilkinson, managing director, SAS UK & Ireland added a comment aimed at younger students interested in data science: “There are lots of intelligent, enthusiastic and creative young adults leaving school with good grades in STEM subjects. However, the structure of the curriculum means that their skills may not be in precisely the right areas – making them like a featherweight in a heavyweight bout. 

“My advice to these students is to immerse yourselves in big data projects. Use the tools – and SAS makes a free version of its software available to over 80 universities in the UK – and do as much work with real datasets as you can. 

"You can also try your luck in our competition to find the UK and Ireland's top data scientist".

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