Visualising Big Data

NUS-ISS Master of Technology students participated in a four-week Hackathon, jointly organised by NUS-ISS and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The students have to conceive and present solutions to resolve real world business challenges.

Students from the NUS-ISS Master of Technology (MTech) programme now have another vehicle to test and apply what they have learnt in class - through hackathons. The Data Visualisation Hackathon is a partnership between NUS-ISS and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and took place from 9 to 30 March 2015. This is a second hackathon event organised for MTech students in Software Engineering, Knowledge Engineering and Enterprise Business Analytics. The first hackathon, the ISS-Knowesis Big Data Analytics Hackathon, was held in October 2014 and involved students ploughing through data from the telecommunications industry to propose solutions.

NUS-ISS works with industry players to run hackathons, where MTech students will put the knowledge they have learnt from their graduate programmes to solve real world business problems for the organisations. Within four evenings of meetings and presentations, ideas are generated, tested and presented, after which a winning team will be chosen.

“The hackathon provides a unique platform where they can learn, in a short space of time, about the challenges and issues that a company experiences. At the same time, it offers students the opportunity to network with industry experts,” says Dr Carol Hargreaves, Chief of MTech in Enterprise Business Analytics Programme. “It also offers our sponsor companies new ideas and solutions within a short frame of time.”

The hackathon was an intensive four-week dive into financial data, with the objective of making complex financial data more accessible, understandable and usable for the general public. MAS kicked off the session by providing students with different scenarios where data visualisation could be applied and used for better decision-making and planning. The students then grouped themselves into teams and selected a scenario for their projects.

Judges and participants at the hackathon

The winning team which came in first, Lannisters, put together an interactive infographic that allows the general public to understand credit card debts better. Lannisters is made up students from the MTech in Knowledge Engineering programme (full-time).

“We met up almost every day for the past three weeks to code, build and create the final product, which is an interactive infographic allowing the audience to analyse data more effectively. It took us approximately 20 hours in total,” said Tran Duy Canh, a member of the winning team. “At first I thought of participating because it sounded fun, and the prize was attractive as well. Later on, I thought it would be helpful in landing an internship, if I do well in the competition.”

Other members of the team included Jasmine Ng and Desale Devendra Ramchandra. For Jasmine, the hackathon was a good way to apply what she has learnt, and an opportunity to pick up new skills. “I had to learn how to use Photoshop, as visuals are very important for the infographic. From this experience, I learnt to see things from the user’s perspective. Technology is an enabler, but in the end, it is about getting the message across.”

Bey Mui Leng, Director of Corporate Communications, MAS, said, “This partnership with NUS-ISS is a first for MAS but definitely not our last. We were impressed with the quality and innovation displayed in the presentations, and we look forward to implementing some of the solutions in the near future.”

“More hackathons are in the pipeline, across various industries,“ says Catherine Khaw, Chief, Intelligent Systems at NUS-ISS, “we believe that Big Data, Analytics, Smart Nation & Internet of Things (IoT) are central to our curriculum, hence we are keen on industry collaborations that can give our students a learning experience involving real business data and challenges.”

If your organisation is keen to co-run a hackathon, please contact Catherine at

For more information on our Master of Technology programmes, click here