Statistical Analytics System class to give students ‘leg up’

Brian Lukacsy March 26, 2014 0

The department of business will begin offering a data analytics course utilizing the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) platform this coming fall semester. SAS is a wide statistical platform that allows for analysis and pattern finding.

The two-credit course, taught by Assistant Professor of Finance Emma Neuhauser, will be offered to students of every department as well as non-students who could benefit, such as bankers or financial advisors. The SAS Analytics course will be offered in the fall semester of 2014, and MA 251 is the only required prerequisite.

Associate Professor of Business Law Sylvester Williams, the head of the business department, initiated the attempt at an SAS course after having conversations with some of Elizabethtown College’s corporate sponsors in marketing, advertising and financial services. He found that there is a growing prominence of SAS as a tool in those fields because of its innovation and usefulness. In addition to business-oriented fields, SAS is also used heavily in actuarial sciences.

Thinking knowledge and familiarity of this platform could benefit students and make them more marketable, Williams began a nearly year-long quest to create the class.

“We thought based upon what people in the industry said, and upon having some competency in the department, that this would be something we could offer to our students,” Williams said. Not only will the course be offered to any interested students, but also to non-students such as local community members.

“We’re hoping to get people from local banking. I think it’s highly demanded. It’s a practical skill that is very good to have,” Dr. Dmitriy Krichevskiy, assistant professor of economics, said.

Krichevskiy has also worked with SAS and recently received training for it in New York City.

“If you want to know why students are graduating or not graduating, if you want to know what classes help with graduation or what kind of classes lead to higher test scores, all of that can be found through SAS. Stats are just everywhere. This is a present phenomenon, especially in data mining,” Krichevskiy said. Data mining allows for discovering patterns among various data sets.

The benefit of SAS is that in traditional statistics, the researchers have to understand what type of relationship they are looking for in their data sets. SAS provides information and relationships that do not have to be designated by the researcher; rather, it finds them on its own. Both Williams and Krichevskiy agree that the demand for SAS will continue to flourish. With individual and organizations growing a need for data, the potential for SAS usage is outstanding.

The class will be application-based, allowing students to interact with the software and learn how to solve problems using real world examples.

“For us it’s very nice, in all of our classes we want to focus on application processes. This is another addition and complements what were doing,” Williams said.

This offering is not only new and unique to Etown, but also to education everywhere. According to Williams and Krichevskiy, there are nearly no other courses like this being offered at the undergraduate level. Some colleges offer this type of course in their statistics major but rarely does it come in this form, which is designed for business students. Similarly, some graduate programs offer practice in SAS, but even that is rare. Having this novel course will reflect positively on the College.

“This is another way to make our department unique and our students more marketable.  It is definitely a way to give the College another signature learning experience that they can highlight when they talk about the College and the department of business,” Williams said.

The SAS Analytics course will start being offered for the fall semester of 2014 and MA 251 is the only required prerequisite.

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