Win a free trip to Analytics 2014

Attention students! The Analytics 2014 Conference is now accepting abstracts for the conference poster session. If you have interesting research to share, consider submitting an abstract. You could even win a free trip to the conference in Las Vegas! The top 6 student poster submissions will be selected as winners of the Analytics 2014 Student Poster Contest and will receive an all-inclusive trip to the conference to present their research. The award includes airfare, hotel, meals and free conference registration. You must be a full-time student at an accredited university or college to be considered.

There are a few important dates to keep in mind. All abstracts must be received by Sept. 5. If your submission is accepted, you must submit your completed poster by Sept. 15. Posters will be judged by a committee and the winners will be notified by Sept. 22.

Good luck and I hope to see you in Las Vegas!

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New academic offerings announced at SAS Global Forum

Universities were the focus of several new announcements at SAS Global Forum on Sunday.

During the opening session, Dr. Jim Goodnight announced the launch of the SAS University Edition software offering.  University Edition will be a downloadable version of SAS, for no cost for teaching, learning and academic research.  The new University Edition contains SAS 9.4m1 Base, SAS/Stat, SAS/IML and Access to PC File Formats.  The new University Edition will run on Windows, MACs and Linux inside a downloaded virtual machine.   The interface will be the new SAS Web Editor.  Users will be able to download the University Edition directly from the web.

Even though the official announcement was made at opening session, several of the SAS Student Ambassador Winners, SAS Faculty Scholarship Winners and SAS Scholarship Winners took part in a University Edition test drive earlier in the day.

Good things come to those who wait.  SAS University Edition will be available for download in May.

As second university related announcement was made during the SAS Global Forum opening session.  Dr. Goodnight announced the introduction of the  SAS Analytics U Online Community .  The new community is a place for students and professors to can find whitepapers, tutorials, data sets, training materials and forums to trade ideas and ask questions.  Facebook users and check out the SAS Analytics U Facebook site.

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Stay curious my friend

Stay curious, my friend.  That is the best advice I can give to you; a student using SAS to benefit your field of study.  Your curiosity has already led you to SAS; the world’s foremost suite of programming and analysis tools.  Now that you are armed with the fundamental knowledge of how to access data sources, read them into SAS, perform complicated analysis, and create publishable result sets, you are ready to take on the real-world data analysis issues of your organization.  But, there is so much more to learn, and not all of it is about SAS.

Be curious about the data your organization handles.  Modern firms house dizzying quantities of transaction data, operational data, and data collected on behalf of clients for analysis.  The data are stored in databases, spreadsheets, flat files, SAS data sets, and a variety of proprietary formats.  Know what databases your data are stored in and which network directories house the files you will be working with.  Understand the security apparatus safeguarding your organization’s data, so you can get access to the data you need for your work.  Learn what the data represent: hospital visits, survey responses, customer orders, drug dosages, and so on.  Realize what constitutes a record, the types and formats of the variables, when missing values are acceptable, and whether special values denote specific events or occurrences.  Within records, learn which are key variables, nominal variables, ordinal variables, discrete variables, continuous variables, interval variables, and composite variables.  In short; know your data.

Be curious about what is happening in your field.  It will change over the years as more and more knowledge is accumulated and new techniques are created for exploring and understanding data.  The types of data you analyze and the types of analysis you perform will change over time.  To be successful, you need to read journals, trade magazines, blogs, papers, and other publications which provide the latest information on what is happening in your area of expertise.  You need to stay current, so you can use the latest techniques to analyze and interpret data.

Be curious about SAS.  SAS software has grown from four products run on mainframe computers 30 years ago to over eighty products and solutions running on mainframe, Windows, UNIX, and Linux operating systems, today.  There are SAS products for directly accessing various data sources, performing complex statistics, operations research, business intelligence, visual analytics, financial management, creating graphs, text mining, risk management and a host of others.  SAS is continually adding new features to existing products and creating new products to serve the needs of government, industry, and academia.  So, there will always be more to learn about how you can use SAS to solve your organization’s business problems.

With your current SAS studies completed, you have unlimited prospects for professional growth ahead of you.  But, you must never become complacent in your quest for additional knowledge.  Stay curious, my friend!

 

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Call for Teams - Data Mining Competition Now Open


SAS and The Institute for Health and Business Insight are teaming up to offer the analytics academic community an opportunity to put their analytical skills to the test. The Analytics Shootout gives student and faculty teams the opportunity to solve a real-world analytics problem.

The Analytics Shootout is a great way to demonstrate your modeling skills and gain recognition. You also have the chance to win a trip to the Analytics 2014 Conference and a monetary donation for your school!

Who Can Enter

Student and faculty teams from any accredited college or university in the United States. See official rules (.pdf).

Nature of the Competition

Teams will be given a hypothetical, but common business problem to solve. Data will be provided and the solution will require the selection and use of appropriate analytics and data mining methods using SAS software.

Prizes

The top three teams will be honored as the Analytics Shootout Winners at Analytics 2014, featured in external press communications, and in SAS and The Institute for Health and Business Insight publications. Members of leading teams will also have opportunities to win great prizes, including an all-expenses paid trip for one team member and the faculty sponsor to Las Vegas to attend and present at Analytics 2014, October 20-21, 2014. The top three teams' universities will also receive donations from SAS.

For more  information visit  the competition page.

The timeline for the Analytics Shootout is as follows:

 Jan. 27 - registration opens

Feb. 27 - Q&A session

April 10 - Q&A session

May 1 - Registration deadline

May 27 - Deadline to make changes to team participants

June 3 - Submission deadline

Aug. 11 - Winning teams announced

 Gather your teams and register today!

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Free SAS Visual Analytics for students

Teradata University Network (TUN) and SAS have teamed up to provide college professors and students hands-on experience with SAS Visual Analytics at no cost.

The worldwide offering delivers cloud-based access to SAS Visual Analytics software and related course materials, making it easy for colleges to incorporate visual analytics into the classroom.

TUN, in conjunction with Teradata, gives students a taste of corporate reality through hands-on software experiences and case studies on some of the world's largest companies. Through the TUN website, professors design assignments using databases with millions of records. TUN currently has more than 3,200 registered faculty members, from more than 1,600 universities in 97 countries. TUN is used by more than 45,000 students around the world, majoring in everything from information systems, management or computer science to finance, marketing or accounting.

I interviewed Dursun Delen, Professor at Oklahoma State University and member of the Teradata University Network Advisory Board, about the benefits.

Watch and learn more about using SAS Visual Analytics on TUN.

Ready to get started? Go to Teradata University Network and get registered.

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Congratulations Analytics 2013 Student Poster Contest Winners

Analytics 2013 is an industry-leading conference for the latest ideas, research and best practices in the field of Analytics.  This year’s program features key note speakers Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, Will Hakes, Co-founder and CEO of Link Analytics, Sven Crone, Deputy Director of the Lancaster Centre for Forecasting, and Ed Gaffin, Director of Marketing Analytics and Optimization, The Walt Disney Company.

In addition to the keynotes and the more than 65 breakout sessions, the conference includes two special offerings, the Seventh Annual Analytics and Data Mining Shootout and the Student Poster Contestposter presentersThe shootout is an opportunity for student and faculty teams to solve a real-world data mining problem.  There were 63 teams registered this year who received the problem statement.  The top 3 teams will be recognized and the winners announced at the conference.

This year's Poster Section includes 52 posters from industry and academia, 36 of which were judged as part of the student poster contest.

Congratulations to the Analytics 2013 student poster contest winners!

  • Ajay Guyyala of Oklahoma State University: “Application of SAS Text Mining to analyze quality defects of materials in a manufacturing Industry.”
  • Anuashka Sharma of Oklahoma State University: “Detection of Crime rate dependency across the different locations in US and to determine factors that contribute most to the violent crime incidences.”
  • Vahraz Zamani Farahani of North Carolina State University: “On-line Photovoltaic Cells Output Predictor.”
  • Carol Frigo of the Research & Development Center at the University of Illinois: “Forecasting Reserve Risk in an Insurance Economic Capital Model.”
  • Prakash Giri of Oklahoma State University: “Americas Engagement in Fitness & Outdoor Activities: Sentiment Analysis of Tweets Using SAS Sentiment Analysis Studio 12.1.”
  • Debbie Huang of California Polytechnic State University: “Estimating the Impact of Lost to Follow-up on Breast Cancer Patients’ Disease-free Survival.”

Look for these exceptional students and other poster presenters at the conference in October.

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LSU graduates first class of students with advanced analytics degrees

The first official graduating class of LSU’s Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) program is seeing some impressive job placement. Nearly all of the 16 students who graduated this spring received job offers before graduation and averaged two job offers per student. LSU offered a pilot program of 10 students in 2011-2012 and all of the students who were seeking jobs obtained employment in the analytics field within a few weeks of graduation.

These new grads don’t fear the employment crisis like other college students. That’s because of the real-world skills they learned in the MSA program at LSU.

Advanced analytics skills in demand

The program was created with support from SAS CEO Jim Goodnight to help with the growing demand for professionals with strong quantitative skills who can effectively and creatively apply knowledge to real business problems.

“Being the number one analytics company in the world we need to make sure that there are future users coming up through the universities,” said Goodnight. “This program at LSU gives students analytical skills that are in high demand.”

Students in the MSA program at LSUThe MSA program at LSU is an intensive 12-month course of study. One of the key elements of the program is a project in which a team of students is “hired” by a customer to solve an actual analytics business problem.

“Our students aren’t just learning analytics, but how to apply them in the business world and work in a collaborative environment,” said Jim Van Scotter, Master of Science in Analytics Advisor at LSU. “Our goal is to provide business value and focus on results.”

Student success

Mel Lazo was an undergrad at LSU studying mathematics when Van Scotter encouraged him to apply to the program.

“What’s beneficial about this program is that it teaches you practical skills to get a job,” said Lazo. “We did a lot of team work in the class which taught us how to rely on people’s strengths to get the job done.”

The 21-year-old is leaving LSU with two degrees, including a SAS credential in base SAS and a job in analytics at Disney -- all in just four years.

“I sent out about 20 applications and got interviews with about half of the companies,” said Lazo. “I was surprised by how much demand there was in the job market for analytics skills.”

David Maradiaga also graduated from the MSA program and is finishing his PhD in agricultural economics at LSU.

“I joined the MSA program because I knew analytics and big-data are a booming industry and companies are looking specifically for people with these set of skills,” said Maradiaga.

Other graduates landed jobs at companies like Microsoft, GM Financial and other top organizations; about half of the students are staying in Louisiana to work for major local companies.

“We looked at job placement to judge the success of our program and this has been a great year for hiring,” said Ken Koonce, Professor of Experimental Statistics and Dean of the College of Agriculture at LSU. “We had several companies come to us looking for people, but we just didn’t have enough graduates to meet the demand right now. We strive to get there.”

SAS support

In addition to financial support, SAS provides LSU with free training and educational materials.

“The funding from SAS allows us to do more at a time when budget cuts are hitting higher education,” said Helmut Schneider, Chair of the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department at LSU. “The additional support has been extremely helpful getting our program on a good foundation and we’re now ahead of other universities working on an advanced analytics program.”

The future of the program

More than 120 students applied for entry into the 2014 class and 27 students were selected and entered the program last month. The overwhelming interest has faculty looking into creating an Analytics Institute and a PhD program in analytics.

“Like any new program, we had some challenges, but we were able to learn from them and complete a successful year,” said Schneider. “We’re looking forward to growing the program and getting the word out about what we’re doing here at LSU.”

LSU's program closely mirrors the Master of Science in Analytics at North Carolina State University, which worked with SAS to launch the nation’s first analytics master’s degree.

SAS, through its Global Academic Program, partners with universities around the world to create degree and joint certificate programs in analytics and related disciplines.

“We believe more universities are going to develop these types of programs that prepare students for careers in analytics,” said Jerry Oglesby, Global Academic Program Director at SAS. “I strongly believe the number of university programs will be quite large in the very near future. As the programs develop, we will continue to support the growth of new analytical talent.”

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Are you a student using SAS to benefit your field of study?

Each year a select number of students from around the world earn the title SAS Student Ambassador. These students join more than 3,000 other SAS users to participate in the annual SAS Global Forum.  SAS Global Forum brings together the best and brightest SAS users to share ideas and learn from others.

The SAS Student Ambassador program is a competitive program designed to recognize the top students using SAS as part of their academic coursework and research.  Students use SAS in many interesting and innovative ways over the course of earning their degree.  If you have used SAS for a project that has helped solve a business problem or helped benefit your field of study, now’s the time to apply for consideration as one of this year’s SAS Student Ambassadors.

Students selected as SAS Student Ambassadors receive an award package which includes flight and hotel expenses, conference registration, pre-conference tutorial, meal package and more to attend and present their work. SAS Global Forum 2014 will be held March 23-26 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, DC.  This is the premier event for SAS users and is one that you’ll look forward to attending year after year.

The road to becoming a SAS Student Ambassador begins with two easy steps

SAS Student Ambassadors are required to present their work at the annual SAS Global Forum. The call for content is open now, so step one is to submit your abstract and working draft.  The second step for consideration as a SAS Student Ambassador is to complete the application. The call for content and the student ambassador application process will close on October 21, 2013 so get your submissions and applications in as soon as possible.

SAS Student Ambassadors share their experience at last year’s conference

Student work showcases some of the many ways SAS is used in academic coursework and research. Learn more about the SAS Student Ambassador Program and contact studentprograms@sas.com with questions. See you at SAS Global Forum 2014!

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Back to school (at SAS!) for AP Statistics teachers

As part of its celebration of the International Year of Statistics, SAS invites 24 teachers to learn more about statistical techniques and the use of SAS in the classroom.

It’s back to school a little early for a group of AP Statistics teachers from North Carolina.

The 24 teachers spent three days at SAS last week taking a course on statistical techniques and the use of SAS® Enterprise Guide®. Offered free of charge, the course emphasized the value of incorporating SAS software into the AP statistics course.

Taught by Herbert Kirk, former long-time head of SAS Education, and Tom Bohannon, Principal Analytical Training Consultant, the course aligns with one of the stated goals of the International Year of Statistics: To nurture statistics as a profession, especially among young people.

“It’s great to learn from these teachers and find out how SAS can support their efforts,” said Julie Petlick, Senior Analytical Training Consultant. “The teachers were eager to give students experience using analytical software and were excited to learn about the career opportunities and demand for these skills. They felt this was a great way to help their students make the connection with what they are learning in their classes and how that will benefit them in the long run.”

Workers with deep statistical knowledge are in high demand and will play an increasingly critical role in our global economy, said Caroline McCullen, Director of Education Initiatives at SAS.   "A new report by McKinsey calls statistics the 'next frontier for innovation' and predicts that by 2018, the US may face a 50% – 60% gap between supply and demand for people with deep analytical talent and advanced training in statistics.  This gap begins in K-12, and programs like the SAS AP Statistics class provide teachers with the skills and awareness they need to guide more students into this exciting career path.”

Teachers talked about takeaways from the course. Hikaru Wajima, who teaches AP Statistics at Raleigh Charter High School, stresses to his students the importance of statistics.   “Every day you see statistics used by people – for example, politicians – to justify an action,” he said. “I want my students to question everything.”

Wajima said SAS Enterprise Guide gives him a good tool to demonstrate statistical ideas, analyze more data and get students excited about data sets. “I want to find data that will interest them or have them bring me some data,” he said. “I’ll have more flexibility as to what I can do in the classroom.”

As a veteran AP Statistics teacher and statistician by training, Celia Rowland from Enloe Magnet High School aims to provide students with the 21st century experiences and applications of the course material.

Her focus recently has been to introduce students to data mining and give them a real-world perspective of how data mining is used in various industries. “I know that in real-life, data mining is not done with a graphing calculator,” Rowland said.  “Giving my students the opportunity to use SAS Enterprise Guide to evaluate data in large data sets provides them with valuable experiences and learning opportunities.”

Rowland said her students who go on to summer internships or part-time employment while in college are hired because they have had exposure to the data analysis tools that are used in the research lab or university setting.”

SAS learned a lot from the teachers during the three days, Petlick said. “We have some planned enhancements to the materials to align more with the specific topics covered in AP Stat, as well as what they would like to be able to achieve using SAS Enterprise Guide.”

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Phillip O. Berry Academy educates SAS users of tomorrow

While some college students may be struggling to decide what degree to pursue, Gabrielle Roseboro, a freshman at NC State, already knows what she wants to be when she grows up: “I want to be a programmer at a large technology company.”

Roseboro chose her career path after taking her first SAS programming course at Phillip O. Berry Academy of technology, a magnet high school in Charlotte, NC.

“At the time, I didn’t realize how valuable it was for me to take this course in high school,” said Roseboro. “But now that I’m in college and have classes with people who had never been exposed to programming until college, I understand the importance. It’s definitely put me ahead of the class.”

Dr. Sharon Jones teaches her students how to use SAS to derive value from data

Her high school teacher, Dr. Sharon Jones, has opened up a whole new world of opportunity to Roseboro and many other students like her.

“Exposing students to programming is half the battle,” said Jones. “They won’t understand the impact that SAS has on everyday life until they experience it. That’s my mission in the classroom -- show them how powerful learning SAS can be.”

The course is offered in the school’s IT Academy and has grown tremendously over the last four years. The school recently developed it into a pathway that begins with introduction to computer science and goes deeper into SAS when students take Programming 1. There’s been so much demand from students that the school trained two more educators to teach the class.

“One of the biggest reasons it’s become so popular is that the students are engaged,” said Jones. “I knew that if I could take data and show them how analytics affects them every day that they would eventually gravitate to it and understand it.”

For example, Jones has taken her students’ passion for the local NBA team, the Charlotte Bobcats, and developed a way to integrate basketball into learning. Each year, the students get to attend a Bobcats game where they collect data, analyze it and even meet with the Bobcats’ official analyst who shows them how SAS is used in the NBA.

In May, the Bobcats franchise decided to change its name to the Hornets. Knowing your customers buying habits and preferences is important for businesses, and students at Phillip O. Berry already have first-hand experience in customer intelligence and analytics. Building on their interest in the Bobcats, the students put together a survey to evaluate name-change preference and collected nearly 1,000 responses from the student body. The students then used SAS to analyze the data, and they presented their project and findings to a representative within the Bobcats organization.

Dr. Jones has fostered in her students an appreciation for knowing how to work with data. Her creative approach has allowed the students to apply their skills to data that interests them, which makes the course more relevant to the students and keeps them highly engaged. “Dr. Jones makes the class fun, and she really cares about how we learn,” said Roseboro.  “It wasn’t just about memorizing and testing. We really learned to understand SAS and what it can do.”

Phillip O. Berry is the only school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system offering a course in SAS programming.

“We are a school of technology -- we have to be on the leading edge of what’s happening in education,” said Jones. “This course takes our students to the next level and gives them a skill that will be highly marketable after they graduate.” Given their students’ interest in continuing to develop analytical skills, Phillip O. Berry plans to add an advanced level SAS programming course beginning in the fall. The advanced course covers comparisons of manipulation techniques and resource cost benefits designed to help programmers choose the most appropriate technique for their data situation. It also teaches students how to process data using SQL, as well as how to design, write and debug macro systems that are reusable and dynamic.

In addition to helping students learn to work with data and extract value from it, Jones also shows her students how well-known people are using these skills in the real world.

“I’m constantly telling them how successful they can be if they take what they learn in my class and pursue a career in analytics,” said Jones. “I think they finally got it when I showed them a network interview about how Jack Dorsey used his skills to create Twitter and make billions.”

Jones commends SAS for working to expose students to programming and analytics at an early age. She encourages other high school educators to consider a similar course at their schools.

As for Roseboro, she is excited about what her future holds and is looking into continuing her education with SAS at the Institute for Advanced Analytics at NC State -- the world’s first advanced analytics degree program, which was developed in collaboration with SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, a Wolfpack alumnus.

For more information on how you can get started with a SAS programming course in your high school, visit http://support.sas.com/learn/ap/hs/.

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