SAS has partnered and engaged with educators and students alike for more than 30 years now, and academic engagement remains a big issue. There is increasing pressure on students around the world to become more “work-ready,” and we know that analytics skills are in high demand. A recent article on job skills that earned more money identified SAS skills as one of the higher-paid options.
Students and academics, however, may see data science and analytics as far beyond their abilities. One of the reasons for reaching out via events like SAS forums is, therefore, to engage with academics about learning and using SAS skills as a routine part of problem solving and decision making. At the forthcoming series of SAS forums and similar events across Europe and the Middle East, there are a number of different and innovative ways of engaging with both students and academics.
Engaging with academics
One of the best ways of demonstrating the links between analytics in business and academia is to involve academics as speakers. At SAS Forum in Portugal, for example, the last keynote speaker, Nadim Habib, is a visiting professor at NOVA SBE, and also acting CEO of the Angola Business School. He does not use SAS for teaching, but is familiar with the tools. His involvement is all the more important because the forum falls during an exam period for most institutions. There will be some attendants from academia, both students and teachers, but participation may be a bit limited.
In Switzerland, at SAS Forum in Zurich, we will be showcasing an interview with a Swiss professor about data science, and particularly how it can enable innovation. This type of conversation can be a good way to explore areas that will be of interest to academics and students, but in a slightly more informal way than a presentation. It can therefore be a bit more approachable.One of the best ways of demonstrating the links between #analytics in business and academia is to involve academics as speakers. Why #students and educators should join SAS forums. Click To Tweet
Offering what people want: information, careers, games and fun
SAS Forum France has also taken note of the use of academics as speakers, but taken it a step further. The focus of academic speakers is on what students want: career advice and information, delivered in a realistic way. There will be a dedicated space on “Les Métiers de Demain,” or the jobs of tomorrow, with academic speakers and particularly a keynote on future jobs related to artificial intelligence. At SAS Forum Deutschland, in Bonn, the SAS team will also be providing information on a key subject: developing skills in SAS for academics. A talk entitled Data Science or What? SAS (Not Only) for Academics will provide more information about this crucial subject.
SAS Forum France will also provide the other ingredient that helps to engage students: fun. It will have several games, including competitions. These will include an escape game or room on data science, and also a post-conference hackathon on cryptocurrency. This will be a team effort, with prizes for the top teams to encourage participation. SAS Forum Deutschland is also running a competition: a paper chase for academics and students to compete to win a power bank.
SAS Forum Milan has taken a similar approach. In April this year, SAS held a hackathon in collaboration with the University of Milan Bicocca. The four winning teams will all present their projects at SAS Forum on 15 May as part of the session on Giovani e Futuro (Young and Future), giving them a chance to showcase their work to potential employers and academic partners. Following the success of last year’s event, there will also a job “speed-dating” session. At SAS Forum 2017, more than 30 SAS partner companies interviewed over 120 students and recent graduates. The idea was to match students and graduates with potential jobs, internships and thesis subjects. This was so popular that we are hosting a similar event this year, on the afternoon of 15 May.
SAS Forum United Kingdom also has an academic speaker on the agenda. Jim Ogilvie from Canterbury Christ Church University will provide valuable insights and information in his talk about the analytics maturity journey in higher education. There will be a dedicated space where a SAS team will talk about what we do in the academic programme, give away the mini-MOOC flyer, and the popular data diva and data dude stickers. Universities will also be present to exhibit their programmes and talk about the courses they teach with SAS.
A recent article on job skills that earned more money identified SAS skills as one of the higher-paid options.
Finally, SAS forums are a great way to meet informally and network, and this includes students and academics. It may be possible to set up meetings with particular people, especially academics, who may not have time to meet during the usual working day because of their teaching commitments. This is something that the team at SAS Switzerland will actively be doing before the forum. At SAS Forum Deutschland, there will be a booth or academic corner, and also feedback sessions during every break to engage with individuals about what they want. Sometimes, just chatting is what it’s all about.