In this blog series, we're proud to shine a light on some of the top Capstone projects from the first graduating class of Data Science for All / Empowerment.  Capstone projects are a critical component of the DS4A / Empowerment curriculum in which teams get together to work on projects that solve real-world data challenges faced by today’s leading companies and public sector organizations.

Meet the Team

Data Science For All Empowerment Graduate: Pablo CruzPablo Cruz

Education: University of Notre Dame, BBA

Zarb School of Business, MBA

“I'm a product management and growth professional with over 10 years experience.  Originally from Puerto Rico, I’ve always had a hunger to explore the world and new skills. I joined the DS4A / Empowerment program to further explore the world of data and to ultimately effect greater positive change in any organization of which I am a part.”


Daniela Esparza

Data Science For All Empowerment Graduate: Daniel Esparza

Electronic Engineer PUC, Chile

ML focus on biomedical research, hardware/software projects in biotechnology, and analytics in consulting.

“I’m passionate about education, accessibility to knowledge, and technology. I joined DS4A to be part of a world-class learning community where everyone brings expertise to build meaningful projects together.”


Alejandro Mancillas

Data Science For All Empowerment Graduate: Alejandro Mancillas

University of California, Merced

A recent Business Economics graduate with a desire to build new skills and continue learning.

I joined DS4A so I could acquire the skills, network, and the opportunities needed to succeed in the world of Data. My goals post-DS4A are to get my career started working with Data and to continue to learn and better



Troy LawrenceLawrence_T_Photo

Education: Junior studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford University

“I am from San Diego, although my family comes from Brazil. Studying hardware and AI, I realized there was a hole in my education when it came to working with and understanding data, a pivotal skill in shaping today’s industry. Already the skills I have gained from DS4A have directly helped me in my current software internship at Facebook, and I know this tool will continue to stay sharp in my belt as I finish my degree and enter the tech industry.”


About the Project: How to Help Restaurants Survive Covid-19

Why did you choose this problem to solve?

Congress passed a $25 billion COVID-19 bailout for the airline industry but none for the restaurant industry, an industry that is four times larger in terms of sales and eighteen times larger in the number of jobs it creates. We were aware of the pain being afflicted on restaurants and provide actionable insights that will allow them to survive and thrive.

Project OverviewDS4A Capstone Project_Datafolio_Team 86_How to help restaurants survive Covid 19_image2

DS4A Capstone Project_Presentation Image_Team 86_How to help restaurants survive Covid 19_2

For more details, click here to see our analysis on GitHub.

What were some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

We started off the program quite strong, brainstorming ideas and agreeing on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviors as our topic. As we started to compile datasets, however, we soon realized how vast our scope was, and this lack of direction, coupled with the departure of a member, led to feeling overwhelmed. Recognizing our situation, we narrowed the scope to impact on restaurants and chose our key datasets. The horses were off from there.

What was the most exciting/surprising finding from your project?

The DS4A Visualization, Statistics and Dashboard trainings helped us uncover fascinating insights for our two case study locations: Miami saw a steady increase in walking and driving route requests during the pandemic, the highest increment of in-store purchases in the country, and a strong influence from education and gender on avoidance of eating at restaurants, while San Francisco saw lower in-store purchases, the highest use of contactless payment methods and widespread avoidance of restaurants.

Who is your team’s mentor and how did they help?

Our mentor is Nish Fox, from Slalom Consulting. She was instrumental in helping us cultivate a story, build a structured narrative, and provide best practices on datafolio and dashboard development.

What do you view as the impact of your project?

Our project gives insights into how cities were impacted by the pandemic and how individual restaurants can survive (4,587,000 peak unemployment for industry). Our dashboard gives strategies on which consumers to target and how to adjust delivery/pickup depending on location. Going forward we plan to automate the dashboard, analyze more cities, and include more variables. Our project serves as a guide for how to best reopen and thrive in this new world.

Publish date: March 7, 2021