From November 22nd to 24th, six members of the NOVA School of Science and Technology ( FCT NOVA) were solving industrial processes optimization issues at Datathon, an initiative promoted by Galp that aimed to address the challenges associated with the work cycles of a Sines Refinery process unit.
Regina Bispo, Miguel Calado, Simão Gonçalves, Mário Eusébio, João Miranda Reis and Bruno Silvano, are the teachers, students and researchers in the Departments of Mathematics, Chemistry and Informatics of FCT NOVA that formed one of the eight European teams that participated in this competition. We asked Regina Bispo, professor and researcher at the Department of Mathematics of FCT NOVA, how was the whole experience.
What motivated the participation of the FCT NOVA team?
RB: We were especially motivated by the challenge focused on real data analysis in the areas of Analytics and Big Data. The fact that the competition was designed to optimize industrial processes at the Sines refinery also gave it a challenging and motivating large scale dimension.
What made this team special?
RB: The diverse scientific areas of this group naturally have very different languages. The challenge of overcoming the difficulties associated with a lack of knowledge of the other area, but also the added value enriched by the complementarity of knowledge, made this team special! On an additional note, I can say that we were probably the most willing team in the competition. The atmosphere was always friendly and collaborative and in many circumstances downright fun and lively!
How was the challenge?
RB: It was fantastic! We stayed from Thursday night to Sunday in Sines. The competition lasted 48 hours. We worked almost nonstop. We had little sleep, we were clearly tired, but always excited! The conditions were good and we had all kinds of supports and amenities. There were so many victories we brought home! More important than using what we knew, it was certainly learning so many other things from all the participants and, along the way, becoming better and more fit Data Scientists! On the other hand, working in a very diverse multidisciplinary team, contacting with all competing teams and of course interacting with all members of Galp and Microsoft, was a fantastic challenge!
Is it important to participate in this type of events?
RB: Of course. One does not have the real dimension of the capital gains that this kind of events brings until you participate in one of them! Besides the obvious scientific development this kind of events brings, it was also important in the perspective of development of other skills such as teamwork, strengthening the ties between students and teachers and connecting us with the real world!