Collaboration between business and technology has been steadily increasing in the industry over the last few years. Experts from technological backgrounds such as computer science, mathematics, and statistics are encouraged to work with professionals from business backgrounds such as finance, economics, marketing, and accounting. Unfortunately, the result of such collaboration has not been successful or ideal. We find it hard to communicate with people from a completely different background, given the fact that there is no intersection in the knowledge base. Slowly, they begin to reject the concept of collaboration, leading to the loss of a truly innovative project.

A newly founded club at the University of Toronto Mississauga is taking the initiative to encourage collaboration between students from technological and business backgrounds. UTM Society for Algorithmic Modelling (UTMSAM) is a student-run club dedicated to the application of machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, algorithm development, and mathematical modelling. This year, UTMSAM is focusing on combining talents from the technological and business aspect together. By doing so, the club hopes to develop a project that can showcase the effectiveness of such collaboration by the end of this school year. The Medium sat down with Scarlett Tran, the co-founder and president of UTMSAM, for a short interview.

Tran, a second-year student at UTM specializing in finance, majoring in economics, and minoring in statistics, credits her experience working “on side projects over the summer” as the inspiration behind UTMSAM’S establishment. After completing “a sufficient amount of market research,” she knew how she wanted the side project to work. However, she says that “the only problem was that [she] did not have the skill sets to implement such a project into a web application,” prompting her to realize that the “the key to developing an innovative project is a collaboration, especially between business and technology.”

UTMSAM is currently holding workshops as frequently as possible. As Tran details, “these workshops cover topics that can potentially establish bridges between the business world and the technology world. For instance, our next workshop will be on predicting stock prices using machine learning. The key takeaway of this event is not to show that such algorithm guarantees a profit in the market, but to show how we can apply technology to the market using financial knowledge.”

Another major goal of UTMSAM is to form a team with diverse backgrounds. Tran hopes to recruit students “not only [from] business, computer science, and mathematics, but also physics, psychology, chemistry, biology, and any other programs.” The team members will be selected based on their “interest and passion” and then participate in a Kaggle competition. “A Kaggle competition is a contest related to dealing with an enormous amount of data and solving a real-world problem,” Tran explains. “We hope [that] we will be able to showcase our result at the end of the year and further spread out the influence of UTMSAM by bringing more students together.”

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