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The team, which represented UCF in the competition for the first time, will be honored on the court during the 2024-25 season.

Caleb Goertzen, Matthew Alderman, Victor Lessa, Francisco Canova and Pavan Ravuri

Don’t be surprised to see a group of Knights on the Milwaukee Bucks’ court during the 2024-25 season. No, they aren’t basketball players but a team of industrial engineering students who took the top honors at the third annual Bucks Hackathon. The event invites teams of undergraduate students to solve a business analytics problem in a virtual competition sponsored by Modine Manufacturing.

Students Matthew Alderman, Caleb Goertzen, Pavan Ravuri, Victor Lessa and Francisco Canova were members of the winning team — UCF’s first representative team in the competition. As a result, the team received an all-inclusive VIP package to a Buck’s game next season, where they’ll be recognized on the court.

“It feels great to win this competition knowing there were so many other universities and students we were competing against,” says Alderman, the team leader. “Doing it as UCF’s first representative team is a great honor because we had to figure out the problem-solving process on our own and didn’t have other legacy knowledge to ask former participants about.”

Teams were asked to analyze three different business data sets with more than 250,000 data points in an effort to provide ticketing strategies and improve the fan experience. They had just three weeks to analyze the data, deliver an elevator pitch to the judges and present their final results to the Bucks’ analytics team and executives from Modine.

“We delivered a random forest machine learning algorithm, a neural network and a multi-variate linear regression model that ultimately gave us insight on how to achieve this objective,” Alderman says. “Our presentation included four key ticketing strategies that, based off of the data and models, would result in improving fan experience and as a byproduct, increase revenue and retention rate.”

Alderman credits UCF’s Decision Support Systems and Quality Engineering courses for providing them with the skills to analyze data and process flows and to run programs in Python, tools that helped them snag a first-place win over schools like the University of Waterloo and the University of Pittsburgh.

“Each of the team members had individual strengths that made this competition a great way to showcase all of our skills together,” Alderman says. “We wanted a real-world problem outside of the classes we were taking, and this proved to be the perfect opportunity to showcase everything we’ve learned in the program.”

Story from UCF Industrial Engineering Students Win Milwaukee Bucks Hackathon by Marisa Ramiccio for UCF Today