Visualizing how Americans spend their time earns Parmar first place in competition

Pranay Parmar

MS/IM student Pranay Parmar won first place in the Data Visualization Competition sponsored by the University of Illinois Library's Scholarly Commons. The competition provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their skills in visually communicating information. Winners were announced on October 22 at the 2019 Scholarly Commons Open House.

Parmar's submission, "A Day in an American's Life," is an interactive data visualization using American Time Use Survey (ATUS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) microdata. The project uncovers interesting facts about how Americans across the country and from various demographics spend their time on seven different activities: work, travel, sleeping, religion, leisure, sports, and household work. As a student from Mumbai, India, Parmar chose the project because he wanted to understand how time spent on routine activities in the U.S. differs from his home country.

"While browsing the web, I stumbled upon the American Time Use Survey data and was impressed by the wealth of information it provided," he said. "It served as a perfect source of information to fulfill my quest for learning more about the States."

He spent most of his time on the project cleaning, merging, and aggregating the datasets and then used skills he learned in his Data Visualization (IS 590DV) class to create the visualizations. MS/IM students Sarvani Putta, Beena Balakrishna, and Smriiti Singhal worked with him on the project.

Parmar noted that demographics and other factors, such as time-zone, culture, population, and socio-economic factors play a vital role in determining people's lifestyle. However, some of his observations surprised him, especially the gender gap in Alaska.

"Alaska seemed to be an extreme outlier in terms of gender disparity in hours worked," Parmar said. "This could be explained from the state's high percentage of jobs in the oil and gas industry, which is predominantly male worker-focused."

Parmar decided to pursue his MS/IM degree because of his penchant for data analysis and information management. He is currently working as an intern for Motorola Solutions at the Research Park, applying advanced analytics and machine learning for optimizing the company's Professional Commercial Radios portfolio.

"In the future, I envision myself working as a Big Data software engineer, gradually working my way up to lead projects, and finally cementing myself as a chief information officer in a renowned firm," he said.

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