Taking a Step Back to Move Forward

A team of University of Central Florida students made it to the semifinals in a data analysis challenge sponsored by the Society of Actuaries. The students who were a part of the successful team included Andres Alvarez, Richard Klimek, Kyle Morgan, Tyler Reback and team leader Connor Fullman.

Over a two-month period, the groups that participated in the challenge were given a case study in which they were asked to analyze the data, form pertinent solutions and present their findings.

For this challenge, the group was tasked with various actuarial problems pertaining to land allocation on the fictitious Akua Island. The island was said to be a developing nation with many of the coastal zones undeveloped. Six different industries were competing to have some of the 20 coastal zones allocated to them. The team was presented with data on each of the zones and had to decide what characteristics of the zones would fit each category best.

“We found that some of the zones did not fit well with any of the allocations and others were the number one choice for every zone allocation,” Fullman explained. “We had to come up with a mathematical and logical approach to the problem in order to maximize the resources of the island.”

Actuarial science is a discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions.

According to Fullman, his interest in pursuing an actuarial science path began in high school after learning about the discipline through his calculus teacher.

“Remembering what my high school teacher told me about actuarial science, I decided to e-mail the actuarial science club president to see if there were any events going on,” Fullman said. “Luckily, there was a Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) student ratemaking seminar coming up that was free for college students.”

Ever since then, Fullman has been fascinated by the art.

UCF helped the team prepare for the challenge by offering classes such as Statistical Theory in which students delved into why statistics works the way it does.

“Knowing all of the assumptions that have to be made for a sufficient statistical analysis helped with our analysis for the challenge,” Fullman explained. “We realized that we had to simplify the possibilities before we could even begin to analyze the data.”

Their experience throughout the competition was riddled with roadblocks and having to take steps back to truly understand the work they were doing. But the challenge was valuable and taught them that it’s sometimes necessary to look at problems unconventionally.

To learn more about the Student Case Study Challenge click here.

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