Inter University
Big Data Challenge

The Inter-University Big Data Challenge (IUBDC) is an inquiry-driven experiential learning program that invites graduate and undergraduate students from across the country to strengthen their problem-solving and critical thinking skills while gaining familiarity with the fundamentals of data science. The IUBDC fosters scientific inquiry, pioneering thinking, and a solution-focused mindset to drive innovative ideas in the field of the challenges’ topics.

How do competitions work? We present the general competition theme, within which you define a research topic of interest. Teams of up to four students are provided with workshops, example datasets, learning resources and tools for data analysis. With the guidance of peer and expert mentors, teams then develop sustainable solutions to local and global issues using open data. At the end of the competition, teams submit their research findings in the form of a scientific manuscript. The top teams are invited to present their findings in front of a panel of industry and academic experts in the field.

Why should you participate?

Develop new skills: The IUBDC is a great platform to develop the following skills:

  • Computational Thinking – The ability to translate aggregates of data into abstract concepts and conduct data-based reasoning for real world challenges.
  • Design Mindset – The ability to create solutions in contexts where only part of the requirements is known.
  • Digital Citizenship – The ability to responsibly utilize information technology to engage in society.
  • Interdisciplinary Mindset – Engage in an interdisciplinary, problem space led by student-driven inquiry.

Scientific Communication – All abstracts and the top finalists’ full papers will be published by the open access, peer-reviewed STEM Fellowship Journal, published by the NRC Research Press!
Monetary Prizes – The winners get the chance to win monetary prizes funded by our sponsors.
Networking – Network with academics, industry professionals, and other forward-thinking students throughout the competition.

For more information, please reach out to


You do not need previous experience with programming, although it is recommended. We welcome all students who are eager to put effort into learning and expanding their skillsets, as well as those who show any level of interest in data science or the challenge topic. Additionally, we will provide you with access to resources and webinars to learn everything you need to succeed!

We encourage participants to start forming teams before the event. You may also register and participate on your own or request to be placed into a team after registration. It is also recommended to make interdisciplinary teams given the nature of some of our data challenge topics.

Think about what interests you the most in the field of the provided topic. Reflect on your day-to-day; talk to your friends and professional network from academia and industry; explore emerging technologies and platforms; read the internet and research articles. In hackathons like these, many teams come up with their topics in the first few days of the challenge, rather than beforehand.

No, students from any country can sign up. The IUBDC is not limited to Canadians.

Please refer to the links of past years’ challenges to see their topics.

Undergraduate and graduate students can register for the Big Data Challenge.

Yes, students do not necessarily have to represent the university at which they are studying.

The IUBDC usually takes place during the months of May-July.

The 2018 STEM Fellowship Big Data Challenge was an incredible experience. The Challenge helped me develop skills in the field of analytics, and taught me the importance of big data in the modern world; the mentorships, online training, and connections I received were invaluable. If you are a high school student, I would highly recommend participating in this incredible program – you won’t regret it! I am endlessly grateful to have had the chance to participate.

Katherine Gotovsky, High School Big Data Challenge

Inter-University Big Data Challenge

Support the

Big Data Challenge

As a federal charity, we rely on the generous support of our sponsors to sustain the work we do for Canadian youth. Funds that are donated to STEM Fellowship are appreciated and will be used to support STEM programs, which provide students across the country with unique, inquiry-based, experiential learning opportunities.