In 2018 US federal agencies spent 4.11 trillion dollars. This figure is reported by, a clearinghouse for money spent by the United States Government. The data provided there represents the complex relationship between the agencies administering spending, the federal accounts that contain those funds, plus the states or other recipients receiving that money. Failure to fully understand this relationship sometimes yields unintended consequences for local policymakers and their affected communities. Where these relationships were previously obscured, data and analytics experts now have the ability to breakdown these relationships and either diagnose or predict spending outcomes.

Karsun Solutions is partnering with graduate students at the University of Southampton to analyze this big data. In our upcoming Making Sense of Government Data analytics hackathon we invite students to take two approaches to breaking down this complex data. In the visualization challenge, we ask students to take a descriptive and diagnostic approach. Alternatively, students may use the data to build useful predictive models.

Suburbs Understanding Government Data

Visualization Challenge: Understanding Data

Students participating in our visualization competition explain complex data-intensive processes in a user friendly way. Using the data students must visually portray information in a manner that’s meaningful to both a government policymaker and the average citizen. Students are challenged with thinking about the relationship between the parties involved versus new insights like highest spend, award or distribution.

Predictive Challenge: Investigating Income

In the predictive challenge we ask students not only to understand patterns and trends, but also to think about the impact of other publicly available data, such as income, on those trends. For instance, they could layer on income information provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Next, they might predict whether income is expected to rise or fall for those areas.  In this track students come away with a clearer insight into building tools for policymakers. These tools have the power to guide the way national policies impact local spending or address shifting neighborhood demographics before they impact national policy.

Clarity through Data

Participants in either track are ultimately judged on their ability to demonstrate original findings in a concise matter while demonstrating technical prowess. Top teams will also demonstrate inference with clear, well thought out claims.

Karsun Solutions is thrilled to be part of this data and analytics hackathon. We are modernization experts serving customers across the federal government. Visit our event announcement to learn more about Karsun Solutions and our partners, the University of Southampton and the Centre for Operational Research, Management Science and Information Systems (CORMSIS.) Join me, Jason Marceau, later this spring as we share our hackathon insights after the event.

30 March 2019 – University of Southampton

The Karsun Solutions Data and Analytics practice announces Making Sense of Government Data, an analytics hackathon co-sponsored with the University of Southampton. During the event, students will engage with US Spend Data, in either visualization or predictive analytics challenges. The data, hosted at, is provided by the United State government to improve transparency for citizens and taxpayers. Spanning agencies across the federal government, these analytics challenges help students learn how to make sense out of large and complex data sets.

Making Sense of Government Data- US Spend Data Hackathon

Jason Marceau, a Director at Karsun Solutions, returns to the University of Southampton to lead the challenge on campus on 30 March 2019. Jason is University of Southampton Alumnus having studied MSc in Business Analytics & Management Science (BAMS) at Southampton Business School 2015/16, gaining a Distinction. In October 2018, Jason visited Southampton and gave a highly successful practitioner talk to the current student cohort about his role at Karsun and how to leverage internship experience in academic and professional settings.

Bringing the hackathon to the University of Southampton is Dr. Cristian Bravo, Associate Professor in Business Analytics, Programme Leader for Business Analytics and Finance (BAF) and Fellow of the Turing Institute  The event is a partnership between Karsun Solutions and the University’s Centre for Operational Research, Management Science and Information Systems (CORMSIS)

CORMSIS is one of the largest Operational Research/Management Science groups in the United Kingdom.  The University of Southampton is ranked in the Top 50 in the World for Operational Research and Statistics, and ranked 7th in the UK (source QS World Rankings 2019).  CORMSIS helps people and organizations make better decisions through advanced mathematical and analytical modelling. CORMSIS connects MSc students with practitioners, alumni, and high-profile employers, including governmental and third sector organizations, in the UK and beyond.

The federal IT modernization experts, Karsun Solutions enables enterprise transformation for its government customers including the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration, and General Services Administration. An innovation-based and performance-driven culture, Karsun Solutions delivers extraordinary outcomes for their customers.  Karsun Solutions is an established firm, with a DCAA Approved Accounting System, CMMI Level 5 – DEV appraisal, and ISO 9001, ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 certifications. Partnering with Karsun Solutions ensures the nimbleness, agility, and access to decision makers of a small business without sacrificing the scalability, capabilities, and experience in modern software development, cloud solutions, and data and advanced analytics of a large firm.

For more details about CORMSIS email

Jason Marceau is a Director at Karsun Solutions. He holds a Master’s of Science in Business Analytics and Management Science from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Recently he returned to the University of Southampton to share his summer project experience with aspiring students and reveals how the program continues to inspire his work within Karsun’s Advanced Analytics practice. This post first appeared on LinkedIn.

Graduate Summer Projects Value

Graduate summer projects are an excellent opportunity to work directly with practitioners in students’ chosen field of study. Programs pair advanced students with employers, where they research real-world challenges and prototype solutions. Summer projects act as an extension of coursework building toward students’ capstones or dissertations. Karsun Solutions engages with students locally on such projects and as part of my dissertation at the University of Southampton I participated in such a project, an experience that informs my work today.

Below I share my summer project journey for those that were not able to attend the CORMSIS (Center for Operations Research, Management Science, & Information Systems) lecture at The University of Southampton, UK. These are helpful insights for any student that may have the opportunity to participate in an in-depth summer project with their advanced or graduate studies.  I summarize the high points related to leveraging the value of these projects.  Though to hear my stories of the great adventure and experience you’ll have to find me at my next engagement at the University of Southampton.

While my lecture focused on CORMIS and its analytics projects, a summer project supporting any advanced studies or dissertation allows you to apply academic knowledge, build your network, prepares you for progressive hiring processes, and builds your personal story.

Apply Academic Knowledge

A summer project brings the academic knowledge to life and allows for an understanding of the practical application.   However, the value goes much deeper. Embrace every moment you have within the project and company to learn.  You will learn far beyond the academic application here if you seek it out. Also, many will encounter challenges along the way. If in fact those that do will be better served by the experience.  It will force you to learn to adapt, have alternatives, and overcome obstacles for success. This is a key element that you can speak to when interviewing with companies.  This will make you stand out as a problem solver and someone who can overcome adversity.

Build your Network

Building your network can perhaps be one of the most powerful things you do during the summer project.  You see I am not really that smart, I just know a lot of smart people.  The point being no one has all the answers, but the power of a network often does and it can open many doors not seen by others.

Prepare for Interviews

Many progressive companies have changed their hiring process from interviews to technical challenges first.  This weeds out those that only understand the academic.  In fact, the company I work for Karsun Solutions does exactly this in many cases.  It takes the risk out of knowing if someone can interview well but can’t do the job.

Build your Personal Story

Seek out the greatest experience and if it scares you then it is the probably the right answer. The culmination of academic, practical, relationships, experiences, challenges, failures, and successes all develop your personal story.  A good story will often make your stand out when seeking an opportunity, it will keep you hungry for more, and it is fun to tell.