SAS' long-standing commitment to academia and finding innovative applications for analytics to solve real-world problems is a core pillar of our purpose.

In 2022, we introduced our first cohort of students from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia working with SAS' thought leaders to explore the work of Zoe Empowers. Using data, Zoe Empowers helps orphaned and vulnerable children with data driven solutions to overcome poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. The project and the learning opportunity proved so impactful that SAS has expanded the opportunity to more students studying data science and analytics across Australia.

From down under to the world

In 2023, SAS partnered with Macquarie University, where a cohort of 10 students came together to embark on their own interdisciplinary project. This cohort, too, analysed data from Zoe Empowers to apply their analytical knowledge to real-world challenges.

What made for a great experience for the students was the opportunity to bridge the gap between their classroom learning and practical application. They relished the challenge, using SAS® Viya® to put their analytical skills to the test.

Expanding horizons with new perspectives

One of the most exciting aspects of each iteration of the interdisciplinary project is the student cohort's fresh perspective. For Macquarie’s students, several key findings came out of their analysis.

While UNSW's cohort identified opportunities to engage with social impact organisations such as Australia's Direct Aid Program (DAP) and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Macquarie’s students focused on political education and structures and initiatives aimed at enhancing environmental awareness to better prepare for the future.

Unique challenges for unique countries

One particularly fascinating outcome from the projects of the Macquarie students was the realization that the challenges significantly impacting the well-being of individuals in Kenya and Rwanda are distinctly country specific. In Kenya, a profound understanding of an individual’s rights as granted by the government is important for leading a satisfying life. Conversely, in Rwanda, the most valuable knowledge revolves around comprehending health insurance and its potential benefits.

More than a technological exercise

Our commitment to these projects extends beyond technology. Throughout the experience, mentors worked closely with the students, sharing their insights and experiences as analytics experts. Reflecting on this journey, Jordan Mowlai, Technical Consultant for SAS Australia and New Zealand, expressed, "It is truly amazing to see the rapid growth of the students throughout the project. At the beginning of the semester, I could see apprehensive faces amongst the cohort. But, by the time of the final presentation, I could see that their hard work and determination had paid off, providing them with the confidence and the knowledge to provide an in-depth analysis of a real-world problem to a live audience."

For students, this experience serves as a compelling glimpse into the kind of challenges they will confront in their future careers. They now recognise how analytics, coupled with their expertise, can transform data into intelligence and intelligence into insights that hold the key to a brighter future.

Want to get involved? Learn more about SAS and its academic programs. 


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Nicholas Quirke

Nicholas Quirke is a Principal Communications Specialist for SAS who is passionate about sharing stories about the power of technology to do good for our customers, partners and society.

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