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Team E.G. 501, comprising Ohio University graduate students in several disciplines, won the top $10,000 prize in the Scripps Innovation Challenge on April 21 for a social media analytics concept to monetize a Twitter account by identifying communities among its followers.
Sponsored by the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, the contest challenges students to provide creative ideas that solve actual innovation problems from the media industry. First prize wins $10,000, second prize wins $5,000 and this year a diversity bonus prize of $5,000 was offered for the top entry offering a diversity strategy to reach underserved or underrepresented populations.
The winning team, which includes industrial and systems engineering doctoral candidate Ehsan Ardjmand, graduate student in international development and studies Naeem Gul and journalism doctoral student Enakshi Roy, was one of 28 to enter the challenge by offering new solutions to challenges in the media industry.
“It really encourages us to continue,” Ardjmand said. “We would like to get this idea to the next level, which is starting a small business.”
Ardjmand said the concept uses data-mining techniques to identify communities of like-minded groups among followers of the Columbus Dispatch’s Twitter followers.
The algorithm-based solution, called CATS (for Clustering, Audience Targeting, and Shooting), identifies which followers share the same likes, dislikes and priorities based on their social media activity and groups them into communities.
By collecting and analyzing data about these communities, the newspaper can match its products to the needs of those communities and use the Twitter account to market to them.
Set to graduate in May next year, Ardjamand said the optimization idea his team used for the Scripps challenge is similar to his doctoral research for advisor and Associate Professor Gary Weckman. For that, he is developing solutions to integrate the forecasting, production planning, and scheduling in manufacturing plant operations.
“Besides the great work he accomplished with his team regarding the Scripps challenge, his dissertation involves developing an interactive intelligent decision support system,” said Weckman. “Ehsan is an amazing Ph.D. student.”