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2021 CSUB Digital Marketing and Business Analytics Hackathon

CSUB First Digital Marketing and Business Analytics Hackathon

“BPA Hackathon” Puts Students to Work on Real World Business Challenges 

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Students from the School of Business and Public Administration at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) participated in the 2021 CSUB Digital Marketing and Business Analytics Hackathon. The team’s consisted of Undergraduate and Graduate students that participated in the first CSUB Hackathon. 

Like any business school, CSUB BPA?sought to find a way to include experiential learning experiences in its curriculum, both to create more meaningful connections between students and the Kern County business community and to help its students begin developing critical skills they will need to be successful managers. This year, CSUB BPA? created its own version of a “hackathon,” putting students on teams that challenged students to solve real world business challenges including running strategic marketing campaigns, forecasting, analyzing business trends, and making strategic decisions with data and analytics. 

This semester, the Digital Marketing Track of the hackathon provides students the real-world experience of creating a strategic advertising/marketing/media campaign for a corporate client or a non-profit organization. The Business Analytics Track offers students an opportunity to examine how avocado producers, retailers, and distributors could improve their strategic decision-making process with retail data of avocados. Both tracks are designed to foster intellectual curiosity about utilizing data to make insights, improve processes, and develop decision-making skills. In the Digital Marketing track, five student teams won the competition. In the Business Analytics track, six student teams won the avocado case hackathon. The sponsors for this event include?Tasteful Selections LLCCalCPA Bakersfield Chapter Program Manager,?CSUB CECE,?CSUB School of Business and Public Administration (BPA), IMA | Institute of Management Accountants?Chapter at CSUB, and CSUB Marketing Student Club.?Our judging panel include MIS Professor, Dr. Yong Choi, Celeste Porter, CFO of Tasteful Selections LLC, and Robert Davis, Founder & CEO at KOR Unlimited. 

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Live Q&A session from Nov 19, 2021 with Teams

BPA Dean, Dr. John Stark, praised the sponsors, community partners, judges, and students for their effort: 

“Our first CSUB Digital Marketing and Business Analytics Hackathon was a tremendous success.? Eleven teams comprised of forty students were recognized for their winning work.? During this competition, these students were pushed to apply and extend the knowledge and skills that they have been developing in our programs.? With this type of applied experience, all of these students have greatly benefited and are further along the path in professional growth and development.? We are deeply indebted to the faculty organizers and supporters of this event for going above and beyond to ensure that our students are getting the best possible education to support their goals and dreams. ?I can hardly wait for next year’s competition to see what the creative energy of our students will produce next!” 


MBA students Justin Bennett, Juan Olivo, Christian Gapper, and Jasmine Orozco shared in their testimonies that one of the aspects of the business analytics track that they really enjoyed was the real-life application they were working on.? “It was not a textbook example in which Company XYZ sells 1000 widgets a week.? It was a product that we were familiar with and the data was real world.? We had to determine how to clean the data and manipulate it to provide the answers we were looking for.? It was not spoon fed to us.? In addition, we had to do additional research to learn more about the product and the market that it is sold in so that we could provide complete, or as near complete as possible, answers to the questions.? A management board needs the key data points so they can make a decision and move on.? Finally, the live Q&A that applied real-world issues to the project was very interesting and again made this very applicable and less abstract.? Price inflation and shipping constraints are very real issues that managers have to determine how to deal with.?This gave us a taste of what it would be like to have to make these management types of decisions and trying to determine what data is needed to support those choices.? Overall it was a great experience and we really enjoyed the ability to utilize skills that we have been learning while at the same time being able to show our creativity and collaboration skills.” 

Elsa Flores, an MBA student shared her experience of using advanced business intelligence programs like Tableau and R to solve the business analytics challenges. "During the preparation for this competition, I learned how to research, and analyze data using R to find out the effects of prices in the avocado industry. I had never worked or heard of RStudio software before this class, and it was exciting to learn to use it and get a better understanding about marketing, pricing, and data analysis. I am not a programmer or know much about coding, so it was challenging, but I figured if I could learn a little, it would be worth it. I also learned about other very useful software such as Sourcemap and Tableau.?Dr. Xu is most knowledgeable in R, and he put a lot of his time and effort to teach us.??I hope to use R in the future whether it is to help me in other classes or with my job.??I am looking into learning more about R, coding and creating syntax.?I find that very interesting."?? 


Ashley Brumm commented on her team’s effort and the preparation process. “Our preparation process for the competition included many class sessions learning about all the pieces we needed to build the best presentation, doing research on our project client to best understand their needs, and good teamwork and communication between group members to be our most successful. Our team was all pretty new to the concept of an experiential learning process, but we believe that it is a very beneficial way for us to learn these valuable career skills. We would like to give special thanks to Professor Xu for putting in so much time and effort to help guide us through this process. He is always so patient with us and is always so willing to answer all our questions. He cares a lot about all of his students and giving them the best learning experience.” 


The organizing committee member and faculty mentor, Dr. Di Wu mentioned, “This is an amazing experiential learning opportunity for our students. Given that it was our first time organizing this event, we could not have achieved it without the support from BPA, our industrial partners, our colleagues, and our students.”  

The organizing committee member and faculty mentor, Dr. Zhenning “Jimmy” Xu shared, “I really liked doing these projects with these talented students. I could not be prouder of my student teams who have demonstrated great analytical skills, teamwork, and critical thinking in tackling the task in both tracks.” 


? Full List of Winning Teams:

Digital Marketing Track (undergraduate)

First Place: Ashley Brumm, Courtney Linton and Bryan Mayani

Second Place (two teams): Betzua Rafik, Asalea Rosales and Karina Saucedo; Marissa Delgado, Emmanuel Morales and Tanya Wilson

Third Place: John Durwin, Alonzo Espinoza and Eric Fuentes

Honorable Mention: Carlos Camarillo, Liliana Chavez, Angel Perez and Anthony Rosas

Business Analytics Track


First Place: Justin Bennett, Juan Olivo, Christian Gapper and Jasmine Orozco

Second Place: Amalia Calderon, Johanna Fisher, Elsa Flores and Lulijeta Tupi


First Place: Ryan Bianchi, Adrian Larios, Alondra Monreal and Alexis Ruiz

Second Place: Denice Aguilera, Jazmin A. Barrita Barrita, Sammy Cortez and Nanthiyaporn Manorom

Third Place: Fatemah Alrasheed, Ryan Brimer, Blake Kunzler and Ashley Puentes

Honorable Mention: Terecita Beltran, Luis Cedeno, Shivneet Nirwan and Gabriel Valdovinos

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