UNC Asheville Freshman Albert Chow Places Third in Pearson’s National StatCrunch Contest

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Albert Chow

What are the odds that a college freshman competing against hundreds of statistics students of all levels across the country would take home a prize?

UNC Asheville student Albert Chow, third place winner of Pearson’s National StatCrunch Contest, could tell you. 

Chow entered the contest after his Introductory Statistics professor Julia Webster announced it to her spring 2018 class. Participants were instructed to “collect, crunch, and communicate” their findings using Pearson’s web-based statistical software StatCrunch®. Chow’s paper, "Investigating the Effects of the 2014-2016 El Nino on Two Mainland U.S. Cities: Did it Make an Impact on Temperature?,” examined the effect of El Nino on the temperatures of Seattle and Houston, two coastal cities that are often affected by extreme weather patterns. 

“In his statistical analysis of temperature and Southern Oscillation Index (an indicator of El Niño/La Niña strength using sea-level pressure differences) data, Albert not only used appropriate analysis methods, but also carefully laid out the assumptions and conditions required for the methods. With his deep understanding of Introductory Statistics, his attention to detail, and his writing skills, Albert was able to successfully compete with upper-level statistics students across the country,” Webster explained.

Chow drove from his hometown of Statesville, N.C. to campus on June 1 to receive news about his paper. He didn’t know Ken Heineck, a technology specialist from Pearson, would be waiting to surprise him with his prize—a $500 check. 

“Not only did the contest require participants to crunch the numbers, they also had to tell a story with their findings. Albert had a very well-written report with great visualizations and appropriate use of data to tell his creative story without Math faculty gathered to congratulate Albert Chow as he received a $500 check from Ken Heineck of Pearson.making assumptions,” said Heineck. 

While Chow didn’t expect to place in the contest, he’s no stranger to trying new things. He chose UNC Asheville for its small size and friendly, accessible faculty, and found it easy to get involved in a variety of campus activities right away. “I threw myself into extracurriculars early on,” he said with a smile. “At Rockypalooza, I joined Underdog Productions and HOSA (for future health professionals), and I’m a member of the Anime Club. I’ve also helped coordinate and promote two blood drives on campus.” 

Despite his penchant for numbers, Chow’s passion lies in healthcare. As a rising sophomore and aspiring physician’s assistant, he’ll be declaring his major in biology with a minor in chemistry next fall. He’s also looking forward to working as a peer tutor in UNC Asheville’s Writing Center, where he’ll help other students tell their own stories, with data or without.