A UNIVERSITY of Stirling student has won a prestigious industry award for her data analysis project with Volunteer Scotland.

Debbie Maltman was awarded the Data Lab MSc 2017-18 Project Award, while Mark Wallace and Laura Hepburn, also from the University, were runners-up in the competition. 

The Data Science for Business student was praised for her work which helped provide new insights into why and how often people volunteer, and what a typical volunteer looks like.

Debbie said: “I really didn’t expect to win as there were so many great projects across a lot of different industries.

“It was amazing to win it, and for a third sector organisation to be involved. It shows how far-reaching data science can be – it’s not just for large companies.

“They already have an amazing team at Volunteer Scotland, who are really committed to volunteering.

“The project was about enhancing what they were doing and looking at how we could increase digital engagement on the website using data science and statistical tools."

Course director Dr Kepa Mendibil, who is a senior lecturer in the Stirling Management School, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Debbie. I am particularly delighted for her because the work she has done has huge potential to bring significant benefits to society.

“This is the third year in a row that Stirling students have won the award and I think that’s testament to the quality of our graduates and their ability to make an impact in organisations across all sectors.”

Alan Stevenson, from Volunteer Scotland, said: “Debbie has been a wonderful ambassador for the power of data science within an organisation. We hope we can continue this aspect of her work with as much vigour and passion.” 

The team at Volunteer Scotland was so impressed by Debbie’s work, they have offered her a job as a Research Officer until June next year.

The MSc Data Science for Business course offered at Stirling Management School was the first of its kind to be launched in Scotland.

It has been designed to teach students how to use data to drive value for organisations and retains strong connections with industry.

More than a third of the course involves students working directly with companies and organisations on real-world projects.