3 questions with 2013 SAS Distinguished Professor

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Dr. Goutam Chakraborty, founder of Oklahoma State University’s SAS Data Mining Certificate Program, was honored at SAS Global Forum with the 2013 SAS Distinguished Professor award. The award is given to individuals for innovative use of SAS in teaching and/or research, and supporting successful student use of SAS.

Last year, OSU’s program had the most applicants and graduates since its launch eight years ago. All 75 graduates in 2012 received job offers within three months of graduation, many at salaries above fellow business and engineering classmates, from companies such as Capital One, Apple, Google, Verizon and FedEx. You can read the Oklahoma State University success story to learn even more about Dr. Chakraborty and his use of SAS.

Dr. Chakraborty raises money each year to take 20 to 30 students to SAS conferences so they have an opportunity to interact with analytical experts. And he encourages the students to publish research papers on their projects. I asked Dr. Chakraborty a few questions, and he found time in his busy schedule to shoot me some thoughts.

What has been most rewarding for you as the head of OSU’s data mining certificate program?
One of the most rewarding parts for me is when I hear back from employers on how well our students perform in analyzing and making sense of big, messy data and, in the process, helping businesses make better decisions. Another rewarding moment happens when I hear back from graduates of our program who says things such as, “This program has changed my life. I had no idea about the field of analytics when I started and now I cannot think about doing anything else.”

Can you give a few examples of particularly innovative or interesting projects done by your students?
Three recent examples come to mind.

  1. Students used text analytics to analyze tweets to track changes in customer sentiments following a major event for a national retail chain.
  2. Students built models to predict whether a customer will be profitable for a major player in the staffing industry.
  3. Students built models to predict whether a customer will buy an insurance policy for a well-known insurance company.

Any advice for schools considering launching their own programs?
It is an exciting and growing field and we need more universities to train students in this field. SAS provides a great suite of software as well as course materials to support academic institutions. Those two (software and course materials) are the key ingredients for launching a successful program.

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Trent Smith

Trent handles government and education communications for SAS. Opinions shared are his own...or someone else's...he's not much for original thought. But they definitely don't represent SAS.

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