LiSwati Wins Global Student Data Visualization Competition

By Sizwe Dlamini

Salesforce has announced that Nkosi Mngomezulu (25) from Ezulwini, who is a graduate student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA has been named as one of the three winners in the Iron Viz: Student Edition 2024 competition.

The Iron Viz: Student Edition is a global competition that was founded in 2019 by Tableau, a Salesforce company, to showcase students’ data visualization skills.

According to IBM, Data visualization is the representation of data through the use of common graphics, such as charts, plots, infographics, and even animations. These visual displays of information communicate complex data relationships and data-driven insights in a way that is easy to understand.

Salesforce, Inc. is an American cloud-based software company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It provides customer relationship management software and applications focused on sales, customer service, marketing automation, e-commerce, analytics, and application development.

As a winner, Nkosi received an all-expenses paid trip to San Diego in late April 2024 to present his winning visualization on stage at the Tableau Conference 2024.

The theme of this year’s student competition was Data + Movies. Students were challenged to visualize their favorite movies and cast members, ranging from Oppenheimer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, using access to an IMBD database. This year, 66 participants from more than eight countries competed.

The judging panel was made up of members from Tableau’s community of users including Tableau Ambassadors, Visionaries, and former Iron Viz winners all reviewed the entries.

The following criteria was used for scoring in this year’s competition.

Beauty & Design: How appropriate was the design for the story being told? Storytelling: Is a clear story being told or a question being explored, and is there appropriate context?

Analytical Depth: How sophisticated and appropriate is the data that is being used for the story?

And visualization best practices: Are insights being portrayed using appropriate layout, charts, and interactivity features?

Speaking in correspondence after entering the Iron Viz: Student Edition competition Mngomezulu said the competition allowed him to contribute to the community of data enthusiasts.

“I entered the Tableau Student Iron Viz competition with the primary goal of challenging and gauging my data visualization skills against fellow students. The competition provided a unique platform to showcase my proficiency in Tableau. Participating in this competition aligned with my commitment to continuous improvement and allowed me to contribute to a community of data enthusiasts.”

Speaking about winning Mngomezulu said this accomplishment serves as a testament to the support he has received from his mentors.

“Being named a winner of the Tableau Student Iron Viz competition is an immense honour and a source of great pride. It represents not only a personal achievement but also a validation of the dedication and effort invested in honing my data visualization skills. The recognition from such a prestigious competition reinforces my commitment to excellence in the field of data analytics. This accomplishment also serves as a testament to the valuable lessons learned throughout the competition, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge in the dynamic realm of Tableau. I am grateful for the opportunity to showcase my abilities and am inspired to further contribute to the data visualization community, leveraging this achievement as a stepping stone for continued professional growth.“

Meanwhile, Courtney Totten, Tableau’s Director of Data Skills and Academic Programs, said Data skills are life skills.

“Whether you’re optimizing your marketing program or your finances, the ability to see and understand data is a key to success. Tableau’s academic programs provide access to free software and comprehensive learning resources that empower students to integrate data into how they think and interact with the world.”

“Congratulations to Mngomezulu on being selected as a winner in this year’s competition. He created a captivating data story on Black Panther and his participation in our student competition enhances Tableau’s data community. His commitment and skills in data visualization are in-demand assets for any career, especially for data professionals. We are thrilled to welcome Mngomezulu to the Tableau Conference in April to present his work on the Iron Viz stage.”

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