Behind the scenes of the SAS Global Forum Student Symposium

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StudentSymposiumWe’re a little less than three months away from SAS Global Forum 2016. While conference organizers are making final plans and SAS users are busy registering and reviewing the agenda, a group of SAS experts are diligently judging a very special contest for this year’s conference.

The SAS Student Symposium is a new program being added to the conference this year to highlight the next generation of analytics professionals.

The competition is an initiative of the SAS Global Users Group Executive Board (SGUGEB) and SAS, where teams of 2-4 students and a faculty mentor apply SAS analytics to answer a question of their choice using one of the provided publicly available big data sets. The resulting work is submitted as a paper to be considered for presentation at SAS Global Forum 2016. This year 63 teams applied for the symposium; a portion of those teams completed their papers for consideration.

Right now, the papers are being evaluated by a panel of independent analytics professionals from the SAS user community.

To give you a behind-the-scenes look at the competition, I asked the judges (who are remaining anonymous) several questions to help explain the benefits of the competition and why it’s important to the SAS users community.

What are you most looking forward to in reviewing the papers?

Judge 1: I have always loved SAS and learning about how people do clever things with it. I am looking forward to seeing how a group of highly intelligent university students will approach their challenges as they produce their SAS programs for this competition. I will be interested to see any innovative techniques they come up with, as well as to identify good solid and reliable ones.

Judge 2: I am looking forward to reading fresh literary voices and seeing new ideas in the papers.  Being new to the SAS scene, the students are likely to have new ideas that are borne from their own experiences with data; and not informed by the writings of contemporary SAS Global Forum authors.  I am interested in seeing what is important to the students and their approaches to the problems.

Why do you think the Student Symposium is an important program for students to participate in?

Judge 3: It provides the heart of the future of the SAS user community (these students) the experience of intense exposure to my (SAS) world:  full of great people with more to share than fit into a lifetime. A competitive challenge like this is important for students because it brings a team together to solve a problem. Very few jobs in the software industry today are solved by individual efforts. This type of a team effort project will prepare the students for the future.

Judge 4: Getting the benefit of critique is good for professional development. Knowing programming, stats, etc. is one thing. Functioning in the workplace with those skills is quite another.  Being part of the Symposium is a good way to learn how to develop important professional skills that aren't necessarily taught in school. 

Judging continues until the week of Feb. 15, when the top eight teams will be announced (Check back here for those details!) Those teams will then get to travel to Las Vegas in April to present their project in a 20-minute breakout session. The presentations will be judged and the top three teams announced at the conference.

Did you participate in the Student Symposium this year? If so, how was your experience?

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Maggie Miller

Education and Training

+ Maggie Miller is a communications specialist at SAS. You'll likely find her writing blogs, shooting videos and sharing it all on social media. She has nearly ten years of journalism experience that she brings to her writing to help you learn and grow with SAS. Follow on Twitter @maggiemiller0

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