Dr. Christopher West, Practicum ManagerLet our students transform your data into actionable insights. Sponsor a practicum team and go from data to decisions in eight months, under full confidentiality, and at no charge.The Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) prepares students for the challenging task of deriving insights from vast quantities of structured and unstructured data. At the core of the MSA curriculum is the Practicum: a team-based learning experience that gives students the opportunity to conduct real-world analytics projects using data from sponsoring organizations. Students work in teams of 4-5 members each to understand the business problem, and then clean and analyze the data. The Practicum spans eight months and culminates with a report and presentation to the sponsor. The teams perform their work under confidentiality agreements and the results are the sole property of the respective sponsors. There is no sponsorship fee. Sponsored projects now total 134 with over 100 sponsors spanning virtually every industry segment—aerospace, agriculture, apparel, banking and financial services, chemicals, computers, consulting, consumer products, e-commerce, energy, entertainment, government, healthcare, heavy machinery, insurance, lodging, marketing and advertising, non-profits, pharmaceuticals, professional sports, publishing, retail, technology, telecommunications, and transportation—and include some of the world’s leading organizations and best known brands.

Practicum Sponsorship – Call for Proposals

The Institute seeks organizations that are interested in sponsoring a team project for the coming academic year. The sponsor will identify a challenging business problem and provide data for the team to analyze. Below are guidelines for organizations that wish to submit a proposal.

Basic Requirements

The proposal consists of three components: (1) a concise description of the problem to be addressed and the goal of the project; (2) the nature and size of the data set to be analyzed; and (3) the names of the key contacts within the sponsoring organizations.

MSA students are equipped with a variety of skills and professional experience. Each team will have skills in statistics, data cleaning, data modeling and visualization, computer programming, and with using industry-standard analytical software tools, such as SAS. Students also receive instruction in teamwork, project management and communication skills.

Team Assignments

Students are assigned to teams based on their skills, experience, and compatibility, to achieve the necessary balance given the needs of the project. The team leader is appointed by the Institute. The team members assign specific roles for themselves.

Project Selection

Projects are selected based on the proposal’s fit with the overall educational goals of the MSA program. It is helpful, but not required, for organizations to have experience working with universities and specifically with sponsoring student projects. Some of the criteria used to select projects include:

  • Educational value
  • Likelihood of success
  • Level of challenge and complexity
  • Clarity of project goals
  • Sponsor motivation and commitment
  • Kind and amount of data
  • Accessibility to specialized software tools, if needed

The number of projects we can conduct is currently limited to 24. We aim to select a variety of projects each year and typically evaluate over 60 proposals. A viable proposal not chosen for a student team in the current round can be placed in a queue for future assignment. We continually look for opportunities to work with new sponsors and new industry segments.
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Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a key element of how the projects are conducted. Unlike a master’s thesis, which is published, the Practicum does not have a public disclosure requirement. Only members of the team have access to their sponsor’s data. Sponsors do not under any circumstance provide personally identifiable information, and will only share data in a manner that is consistent with their third-party data transfer rules.

Students receive instruction in data privacy and security, and the law with respect to non-disclosure agreements. Because students are not employees of the university, they must individually consent to the sponsor’s NDA before being assigned to a project.

Sponsor Commitments

Each sponsor is required to:

  • provide the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to be signed by student team;
  • securely transfer the promised data to the team on the specified timetable;
  • assign a liaison, who will be the team’s primary point of contact to resolve various issues as they may arise;
  • provide technical and strategic guidance, as needed, to ensure the project remains on the desired course;
  • host the team for the kick-off and/or final presentation on-site, if possible.

The sponsor is not expected to provide ongoing project management and oversight—this is done by the Institute.

Sponsorship Fees

There is no fee charged to sponsor a Practicum project. However, we recognize there is a cost involved to participate in terms of the time and effort required by individuals sponsoring a project.

We would be grateful to the sponsor for deferring all or part of the expense, if any, to have the student team travel to the sponsor location for the kick-off meeting and/or final presentation.

Timetable

  • First round proposal review: April 1
  • Second round proposal review: July 1
  • Sponsors for current year selected by August 1
  • All arrangements including NDA and secure data transfer completed by: September 1
  • Project kick-off meetings held between September 15-30
  • Midpoint review meeting by December 1
  • Final presentation to sponsor held in end of April

More Information

For more information about becoming a Practicum project sponsor, please feel welcome to contact Dr. Christopher West, the Institute’s practicum manager. We will be glad to work with you in formulating your proposal.

Proposal Submission

Proposals are submitted online and accepted throughout the year. The Institute is always ready to begin a dialogue with a prospective sponsor. There are two formal reviews with submission deadlines. Once a proposal receives the green light, it’s place in the queue for the next round of project kick-offs. Proposals submitted early in the annual cycle have the best chance of acceptance. An organization may submit more than one proposal.Proposal Submission Form

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PRACTICUM SPONSORS
AAA Carolinas (Charlotte NC)
Allscripts (Chicago IL)
Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Canada)
AT&T (Dallas TX)
B2W Digital (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Baltimore Ravens (Baltimore MD)
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Chapel Hill NC)
CA (Raleigh NC)
Cargill (Minneapolis MN)
Carlson Marketing Worldwide (Minneapolis MN)
Caterpillar (Peoria IL)
Central Intelligence Agency (McLean VA)
Cigna (Bloomfield CT)
Cisco Systems (San Jose CA)
Citrix Sharefile (Raleigh NC)
Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland OH)
Constellation Energy (Baltimore MD)
CrescoAG Corporation (Memphis TN)
Crete Carrier (Lincoln NE)
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville AR)
Deere & Company (Moline IL)
Deloitte (Hartford CT)
Deluxe Corporation (Minneapolis MN)
Denver Art Museum (Denver CO)
Detica (Washington DC)
Dex One (Cary NC)
Disney (Orlando FL)
Dude Solutions (Cary NC)
Eastman Chemical (Kingsport TN)
eBay (New York, NY; San Jose CA)
Elder Research (Charlottesville VA)
Elevate (Ft. Worth TX)
Estée Lauder Companies (New York NY)
Federal Communications Commission (Washington DC)
Florida Blue (Jacksonville FL)
GE Energy (Atlanta GA)
GlaxoSmithKline (Research Triangle Park NC)
Global Knowledge (Cary NC)
H&R Block (Kansas City MO)
Hallmark (Kansas City MO)
Hamilton Beach Brands (Richmond VA)
Hanesbrands (Winston-Salem NC)
Houston Astros (Houston TX)
IBM (Armonk NY)
Inmar (Winston-Salem NC)
International AG Insurance Solutions (Des Moines IA)
Jacksonville Jaguars (Jacksonville FL)
LabCorp (Greensboro NC)
LACMA (Los Angeles CA)
Liberty Mutual (Boston MA)
Live Oak Bank (Wilmington NC)
Lowe’s Home Improvement (Mooresville NC)
Lulu Enterprises (Raleigh NC)
M&T Bank (Buffalo NY)
Marriott International (Bethesda MD)
MetLife (New York NY)
Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis MN)
Monsanto (St. Louis MO)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston MA)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston TX)
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City MO)
NetJets (Columbus OH)
North Carolina State Treasurer (Raleigh NC)
North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh NC)
Northrop Grumman (McLean VA)
Quaero (Charlotte NC)
Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia PA)
Piedmont Health (Carrboro NC)
Premier (Charlotte NC)
Procter & Gamble (Cincinnati OH)
Putnam Investments (Boston MA)
Railinc (Cary NC)
Raytheon Company (Waltham MA)
Recall (Norcross GA)
Red Hat (Raleigh NC)
Replacements (Greensboro NC)
Rex/UNC Healthcare (Raleigh NC)
Richard Childress Racing (Welcome NC)
RTI International (Research Triangle Park NC)
Safeco Insurance (Seattle WA)
Sealed Air (Duncan SC)
Sensus (Raleigh NC)
Siemens Healthcare (Cary NC)
Tekelec (Morrisville NC)
The Daniel Group (Charlotte NC)
The J. M. Smucker Company (Orrville OH)
Travelocity (Southlake TX)
Trident Marketing (Charlotte NC)
UNC Health Care (Chapel Hill NC)
United Airlines (Chicago IL)
UNOS (Richmond VA)
U.S. Postal Service (Washington DC)
USA Baseball (Durham NC)
Verisk Health (South Jordan UT)
Verscend (Raleigh NC; Waltham MA)
VF Corporation (Greensboro NC)
Visionist (Columbia MD)
Volvo Trucks NA (Greensboro NC)
Wachovia Bank (Charlotte NC)
Walgreens (Deerfield IL)
Zencos Consulting (Durham NC)
Bold lettering denotes current sponsors.

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