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Super Analytics Challenge Kicks Off with Community Service

Nearly 40 Katz staff and students kicked off the 2023 Super Analytics Challenge on Thursday, January 19. The event was held at the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community in Pittsburgh’s South Side. Katie Bennett, associate director for student engagement at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, welcomed students. She said, “Students are catalysts for change. That change comes from ideas generated in this challenge.”

The 2023 Super Analytics Challenge is focused on the shortage of behavioral health and mental health workers amid a rising need for services. Five teams of five graduate students from across the University of Pittsburgh will compete to deliver data-driven ideas on how to address the issue. Speakers at the event educated participants on what defines mental health and frontline workers.

Mental Healthcare Needs

Jewel Denne, assistant deputy for the Bureau of Mental Health Services in Allegheny County​, gave a brief overview of services that are offered in the county. She shared that around 40,000 adults received at least one mental health service from July 2021 to June 2022. One in five adults faces a mental health challenge each year, but less than half receive treatment. Denne encouraged students to consider what barriers there are to treatment.

Pastor Erin Jones and LaChan Russell discussed the intersections of homelessness, hunger, and mental wellness – tying this year’s challenge to the 2021 and 2022 challenges. Russell, who works with the Hot Metal Bridge Community Faith organization, told students, “We can all provide some sort of assistance to someone.” She continued, “Just because someone is in a situation does not mean that they are that situation.” All three speakers shared impactful stories about people they have helped in their service careers.

Albrecht Powell, managing director at Accenture and Katz Executive in Residence, led a storytelling workshop for challenge participants. He told students how a compelling story can make a major difference in everything from an introduction to a sales pitch. He ended the session with wise words: “Be the change.”

Community Service

After the experts shared their stories, it was finally time for the students to begin the challenge’s core mission – serving the community. Students, staff, and Student Executive Board members prepared and served a meal service to a group of Pittsburghers.

Chahee Park (MS ’23) who participated in the challenge last year and helped develop the challenge case this year said, “When it comes to making changes and impacts, taking action is the key.” She continued, “I believe this service opportunity at the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community helped me be more directly involved in the matter beyond analysis as a third person.”

In the Super Analytics Challenge, students are encouraged to dive deep into the issues at hand and work closely with service providers like Denne, Jones, and Russell. The challenge has generated creative solutions to complex issues and this year will be no different as the teams collaborate during the next month to present their solutions to a panel of judges on February 17.

To view the case in its entirety, click here.