As an alumnus, one of the things that keeps me connected to the RPI community is the hockey team (I’m in my fifth year as a season ticket holder; I look forward to hockey season all summer). As a graduate of the Information, Technology, and Web Science program, I’m fascinated by data, and I spend a fair amount of my spare time writing code for fun. The obvious intersection of these interests is hockey statistics. Hockey supplies a rich set of stats, but not to the extent that it’s difficult to understand. Unfortunately, while there are numerous online sources of college hockey statistics, none of them provide open access to machine-readable data. RPI publishes game stats in the xml format, which is presumably machine-readable (and the aggregation of such data-feeds from across college sports forms the data source for many commercial and non-profit websites), but that feed isn’t readily available to the public. Rensselaer has one of the world’s leading data science programs; it would be fantastic if its athletic department tried to support the Institute’s academic mission by making the data, created by the actions of its student athletes, available to the public. If the school has $6 million for a new baseball field and $18 million for renovations to the Houston Field House, I’m sure it can afford to make their already published statistics more usable. Maybe they can even enable some enterprising ITWS student to create the next FiveThirtyEight.com.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR