Sophomores Outshine Global Competitors in Adobe Analytics Challenge

Mike Lee | April 12, 2024

USC undergraduates competed against teams of graduate students to become the youngest team ever to make the finals of this prestigious competition.

Claude Hanna Yoo, tommy Zhan Shu, and Colin Wang takes home second place.

Claude Hanna Yoo, Tommy Zhan Shu, and Colin Wang takes home second place.

Colin Wang (’26 Applied Mathematics/USC Dornsife), Tommy Zhan Shu (’26 Biology/USC Dornsife and Data Science/USC Viterbi), and Claude Hana Yoo (’26 Computer Science/USC Viterbi), guided by mentor Mike Lee, Senior Lecturer in Applied Analytics and Enterprise Systems at the School of Advanced Computing, clinched second place in the Adobe Analytics Challenge on March 25, 2024, in Las Vegas. Competing against over 2,000 teams globally, their achievement highlights the practical application of their studies in a highly competitive setting. 

This competition, lauded for its intensity and scope, is a cornerstone event for students to engage with real-world data through Adobe’s analytics tools. “One of the largest academic collegiate competitions in the world,” as described by Sandor Jones, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, it challenges participants to tackle genuine business cases with advanced analytical solutions. 

The journey to the finals was rigorous. After surpassing thousands of teams to enter the semi-finals among the top 20, they excelled further to secure a spot in the final four. Competing against all graduate students, their presence in the finals underscored their exceptional talent and preparation. Nate Smith, Director of Product Marketing at Adobe, acknowledged their unique achievement, stating, “the team was the youngest ever to make the finals in the 18-year history of the competition.” 

Claude Hana Yoo reflected on the competition, emphasizing the real-world skills it honed. “My favorite part of the competition was how it gave us the chance to exercise so many real-world skills. Our data was very raw, which is realistic to most data analysis tasks, and we had to professionally present our findings with clean slide decks and data visualizations to senior executives.” 

Colin Wang shared his thoughts on the practical experience gained, “The Adobe Analytics Challenge was one of the most enjoyable and challenging competitions I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of. Working with real company data, which was terribly organized, was a practical way to apply the skills I learned in my classes.” 

Tommy Zhan Shu shared his perspective on diving into data analysis, “At the onset of looking at data, it’s always a pile of organized chaos and never something you can directly just understand. But as you delve deeper and start to compile information and sort out the data, stories become clearer and numbers more comprehensive. To me, it’s incredible to realize how the data points represent individual storylines that each person contributed, encapsulated through the figures present. That’s what makes these experiences interesting—it’s not just about understanding numbers but rather the people behind them.” 

Mentor Mike Lee spoke to the broader educational philosophy their success represented: “This shows the strength of our interdisciplinary approach to undergraduate education, which is also one of the underpinnings of the new School of Advanced Computing. This approach equips our students to tackle complex challenges, blending theory with practical application in a real-world setting.” 

Published on April 12th, 2024

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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