Friday, March 15, 2013
The University of West Georgia Richards College of Business Economics Department introduced a new certificate program at the Inaugural SAS Day on March 12. Students in this program learn how to utilize data analysis tools and systems from the SAS Institute. SAS, the world’s largest analytic software company, is used by more than 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies. UWG’s SAS certificate program is one of only eight in the nation, and it is the only one in existence that focuses on Econometrics and Business Analytics. UWG is planning to continue SAS Day as an annual event, creating opportunities for business students to network with professionals and providing them with career options available in analytics.
Companies dealing with big data face the problem of filtering through large amounts of information and determining what is considered valuable and what is not. Many companies, such as the New York Stock Exchange, Walmart and Target, are now retrieving this data in real-time, creating the issue of data accumulating very quickly. SAS analyzes this data easily.
Dr. Joey Smith, UWG’s Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, discussed the advantages of the program and how it will equip students with the ability to successfully analyze big data. “We are trying to give our students at West Georgia a competitive advantage,” Smith said. “In the marketplace today, there are a lot of different skills that are required. These [SAS Skills] are skills that are going to differentiate our students from other students. These are going to be undergraduate students that have SAS experience when they walk into a workplace.”
The keynote speaker for the event, Dr. Kenneth Sanford, SAS Econometric Evangelist for Advanced Analytics, proved that those who have training in SAS have a considerable advantage over those who do not. “According to Payscale.com, there is a 17% premium on those with SAS skills as compared to those without SAS skills.”
Select students were asked to present and display various analytic research projects during SAS Day. Smith noted that the research projects covered a broad variety of topics, including data analysis for hospital emergency rooms, Super PAC spending and how it influences government, the housing market, crime patterns, sports and immigration. “We are trying to move beyond just doing business as usual,” he said. “Our students are being creative.”
SAS Day also included a panel discussion with business professionals. The panel included Laureano Gomez, Aspen Analytics; Amanda Hand, FiveXFive; Corey Boone, Southern Company; and David Johnson, Cane Bay Partners VI, LLC. Johnson, an alumnus of the University of West Georgia, feels strongly that this program will be beneficial to UWG students. In 2011, he endowed the David A. Johnson Applied Econometrics and Analytics Fund at UWG, which provided the financial resources to the Richards College of Business and Department of Economics to begin offering courses in Econometrics and Business Analytics using SAS statistical software.
“As an employer in the metro Atlanta area and other locations, it’s important for there to be students as prospective employees that have these sort of skills,” said Johnson. “It’s essential for local businesses, and I think it’s a really important competitive advantage for those students. I’m glad that they are able to do that here at West Georgia.”
To qualify for a Certificate in Econometrics and Business Analytics in SAS, UWG students must complete four or more SAS-based courses, receive a grade of “B” or higher in each of the courses and complete a variety of assignments including two major projects using SAS.