AIRC Perspectives

Defense Data Grand Prix: Solving Grand Problems to Meet a Grand Vision

June 2022

AUTHORS: Dr. Stoney Trent1, Dr. Hoong Yan See Tao2, Dr. Ying Wang2, Dr. Paul Grogan2and Dr. Christian Lucero1

The Department of Defense (DoD) seeks ways to engage data-science experts on its compelling, real-world challenges and decisions. In comparison, university students of data science need practical challenges to tackle as senior projects and graduate research. In response, the Acquisition Innovation Research Center (AIRC) created the Defense Data Grand Prix competition to bring these two compelling needs together in a win-win situation. In the Grand Prix, faculty-led university teams collaborate with DoD stakeholders and problem “owners” for semester-long projects to develop and recommend solutions to real-world problems. The competition provides data-driven analysis to inform DoD operational and policy decisions related to data and operations while giving students valuable, real-world data and analytic questions to tackle in ready-made practicums that can be integrated with undergraduate and graduate courses and research seminars. Initial results described in this paper illustrate the promise of this activity. In response, AIRC continues to seek additional DoD data challenges and a broader engagement with faculty-led teams from academia for future “heats” in the Defense Data Grand Prix.