MPC IT Shark Tank - Cycle 3 Results

Cycle 3 of MPC IT Shark Tank wrapped up last month. Here's the scoop!

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth post in our Shark Tank series. If you are just joining us, you can catch up by reading the intro, first cycle results, and second cycle results.

In June the third round of MPC IT Shark Tank was completed. As is becoming the norm, the teams once again went above and beyond in their efforts. This cycle’s presentations included:

  • IPUMS Mobile - The team’s goal was to create a mobile-friendly application for accessing IPUMS USA metadata and servicing simple questions that can be answered using variable code frequencies (e.g. “How many married people in 1910?”) (They also presented in Cycle 2 but made significant progress in this round, so they presented again).
  • The Producers - This is a little different than our usual Shark Tank projects. This team wants to create introductory videos for each of our major data products.
  • Grid Diff - So much of our metadata is stored in Excel spreadsheets. This team posed the question, “How can we visualize change of an Excel spreadsheet through time?” They aimed to solve this problem by creating a grid diff tool that could easily visualize when cells of a spreadsheet have changed between versions.
  • Access Denied - This team continues to work on their web-based tool for doing quality control and making edits to historical US census data.

The IPUMS Mobile team presented their latest achievements, including the ability to generate cross-tabulations of two variables and restricting results to a specific US state. They also spent time cleaning up the responsive web UI. The project is definitely feeling less like a proof-of-concept and more like a useful addition to the IPUMS toolkit. While still only available internally, the team is closing in on having something production-ready.

The Producers showed their videos introductions to IPUMS, NHGIS and TerraPop. The videos were excellent, as the team recruited project experts to explain the concepts, and injected a healthy dose of humor (and in some cases, costuming!) to keep things light. There was even use of Middle-earth as an example of the powerful spatial features of NHGIS!

The Grid Diff team demoed their web tool which was very effective not only in showing changes within individual cell values, but also in showing when rows or columns were added or removed, an important feature for us as that signifies when samples and variables are being added to a project. The tool made excellent use of the Daff library for table comparison.

Finally, the Access Denied team presented a status update as they continue to make progress towards replacing MS Access with this web-based tool. They were not ready to call it complete and excused themselves from the voting round for Cycle 3.

With the presentations done, it was voting time. There was buzz for each of the three projects, but in the end, IPUMS Mobile won the vote and the team (Colin Davis, Dan Elbert, Alex McWhinnie, and Jayandra Pokharel) was crowned MPC IT Shark Tank Cycle 3 champion! Special mention for Jayandra, who became the first two-time MPC IT Shark Tank winner!

Speaking of champions, you might be wondering what the teams win. First, they win the glory of being immortalized in the office on the winners’ plaque.

The Winners' Plaque

Second, each team member receives a novelty prize of some sort. For this cycle, it was a collection of the finest toys that the campus bookstore had to offer! For example:


Wind-up Handstand Monkey

Past winners received tins of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty or Lego Minifigures (not pictured).

Thinking Putty

That’s it for Shark Tank Cycle 3! Cycle 4 is underway, so we’ll have another update in a few months. Thanks for reading!

Dialogue & Discussion