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A-Lab Teams Bring their A-Game to Final Presentations

February 01, 2018

alab winners


What does the Hulu web site have in common with GE Transportation’s locomotive team? How about the Boston Globe and JP Morgan Chase?

The answer is that each of these corporate sponsors was matched with a team of MIT Analytics Lab students to solve high-level business problems using advanced analytics. It was all part of the Fall 2017 A-Lab course that paired 24 student teams with a wide range of sponsors from Amazon to Avianca; Burning Glass to Wayfair, and Toyota to Accenture.

Among the topics addressed were customer experience, product design, fraud, and prediction capabilities.

The course, which runs each fall semester, is presented by the IDE and is part of MIT Sloan School of Management’s suite of Action Learning offerings. The course is led by IDE leaders, Erik Brynjolfsson and Sinan Aral. Aral praised the hard work and high caliber of this year’s teams saying the students did a “fantastic job” meeting the project requirements set out for them.

In the first three years, A-Lab attracted 150 students from a dozen MIT departments to work on over 40 projects spanning IoT, digital technology, platforms, finance, e-commerce, retail, manufacturing, medical supply chains, workplace safety, and global health. 

Some projects are tightly focused on dilemmas organizations currently face—such as customer churn or process optimization– which requires students to quickly understand particular business circumstances and domains before performing their descriptive, predictive, or causal analysis. Other projects are more open-ended—for instance, how to determine fairness in decision-making– and students must think entrepreneurially about how to bring new value to existing data and suggest frontiers for future business opportunity.

The 2017 final projects were presented to a panel of judges on December 8. The judges were: Jana Eggers, CEO of Nara Logics; Zetta Ventures’ Mark Gorenberg, and Deb Roy, MIT Professor, formerly with Twitter, and other social-media companies.

Among the criteria used by the judges were: the creativity and application of the techniques used; the level of efforts, the business impact of the solutions, and the presentation. A team working with JPMorgan Chase was announced the winner, followed by teams working with Earny and eBay.


[Pictured above are Sinan Aral (far left) and Erik Brynjolfsson (far right), with judges and winning students.]