First-ever U-M Iron Viz Championship

  • The winners of the Iron Viz Championship with their sous vizzes (L-R): Travis Tasgold, Tyler Hughes (first place), Beth Plotts (second place), Dave Berrie, Dan Stanish (third place), and Chris Allan. (Stephanie Dascola, HITS Communications)

It’s like “Iron Chef,” but with data instead of ingredients.

The first-ever U-M Iron Viz Championship was held on November 30, 2017, in the Arbor Lakes Dome. Using Tableau Software’s visual analytics capabilities, data analysts were tasked with building a data visualization—or viz—in front of a live audience in just 20 minutes using 45,000+ rows of data about trees in Ann Arbor.

Analysts from across the university entered the competition in October, and the field was narrowed down to three in early November. The finalists then had two weeks to practice and refine their viz.

Each analyst had a “sous viz,” much like a sous chef supports the head chef. Each helped with time management and answered questions during the competition.

The first-ever winner was Tyler J. Hughes, B.B.A., a financial analyst with Medical School Finance. His sous viz was Travis Tasgold, a financial analyst with the Finance Development Program. Hughes’ visualization was inspired by the desire to create something that people would find enjoyable to use, and answer their own questions.

The second place winner was Beth Plotts, a business systems analyst senior on the Analytics Team, Data Reporting and Analytics Division, HITS. Her viz was inspired by neighborhood power outages caused by downed tree limbs. Her sous viz was Dave Berrie, a business intelligence analyst, Analytics Team, Data Reporting and Analytics Division, HITS.

Third place winner was Dan Stanish, business intelligence analyst senior, Facilities and Operations Information Systems, and his sous viz was Chris Allan, business systems analyst lead, Institute for Social Research. Stanish’s viz was inspired by the rich history of the university and the bicentennial celebration.

Judges Tracy Pattok, Andy De, and Kelly Miller based their picks on storytelling, best practices, and real-world application. The audience also had a chance to weigh in with online voting.

Tom Cook, a business intelligence analyst from HITS, had emcee honors and said, “The Iron Viz Championship helped share knowledge about tools and skills. It also got people excited about work and showcased new ideas that can be applied to their jobs!”

Read the full story on the HITS website>>

View more photos from the event>>

Author: D. Stephanie Dascola, Medical School Office of Research

Stephanie is a communications manager at the Medical School Office of Research. Contact her at