NC State, SAS to Collaborate

At an executive breakfast this morning, North Carolina State University Chancellor James Oblinger and Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, the leader in business intelligence, announced an initiative to create a new graduate degree program in the rapidly expanding field of data analytics.

The new Analytics Initiative – led by Dr. Michael Rappa, Alan T. Dickson Distinguished University Professor – proposes an intensive one-year professional master’s degree that will give students an understanding of analytical concepts and hands-on experience with the same powerful tools used in industry today. The degree program will be organized as part of the proposed Institute for Advanced Analytics, to be located on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

Modern society is awash in data. The tools, concepts and practices of analytics hold the key to understanding massive amounts of data and then using this knowledge to make sound decisions. Whether it is uncovering fraud in banking transactions, improving the quality of healthcare received by patients or predicting which customers will respond to a marketing campaign, the applications of data analytics cross all industries. As such, the ability to strategically apply analytics transcends industry, making experts in the field in high demand.

“The Analytics Initiative brings together a large multidisciplinary group of NC State’s most talented faculty and staff to work in collaboration with one of the world’s leaders in analytics software. Together we will create an educational program that is truly world-class and unparalleled in addressing the needs of the 21st century workforce,” said Oblinger.

The Analytics Initiative will receive strong support from SAS in the development of the curriculum over the next three years. Today’s announcement to 20 senior executives from both organizations comes one year after Oblinger and Goodnight met to identify novel ways SAS and NC State might work together on important educational endeavors.

“Competing on analytics in corporations, government agencies and educational institutions is becoming a must,” said Goodnight. “And our customers are making it clear: They need more talent capable of leveraging world-class business intelligence systems. The NC State University Institute for Advanced Analytics will help meet this need with high-quality, domain-specific, analytics education. It’s the right program, at the right time, with the right leadership at the helm.”

The Initiative represents the latest milestone in a long and fruitful relationship. The earliest version of SAS was created by Goodnight and NC State colleagues more than 30 years ago to analyze agricultural research data. The proposed degree will commence in 2007, pending approval of NC State and UNC System authorities.