SAS Customer Recognition — Mike Zdeb
University at Albany School of Public Health
How long have you been using SAS®?
Around 20 years.
What SAS products have you used in the past and what products and solutions are you currently using?
I used (and taught others how to use) Base SAS, SAS/STAT® and SAS/GRAPH® while working at the New York State Department of Health for many years.
I still teach my students how to use SAS software in two of the courses I teach at the University at Albany School of Public Health.
What is a problem you have solved using SAS?
While at the NY State Department of Health, I designed a website that is used by county health departments to assemble data for a county-based health assessment. At that time, counties were required to show their plan for promoting the health of county residents every two years. The tables, charts and maps on the site are all generated by SAS and allow easy updating of the data.
Also, while it's not a problem in the conventional sense, one problem-solving venture that involves SAS is finding jobs for our graduates. Their SAS skills really help them stand out when applying for jobs.
Here's a quote from one of my former students – a "problem solved" that's actually more satisfying than designing that website.
"I thought I would check in with you because after graduating with my MPH this past May, concentrating in social behavior and community health, I find myself at Yale working as a SAS programmer and data manager. I know in the beginning of your Intro to SAS course, you describe to the students how/where SAS is used and the value of learning it regardless of where you think you will end up. Upon graduating, I did not intend on going into data management and SAS programming, but now that is my main responsibility working on the Connecticut portion of the National Children's Study, and I must admit I am enjoying it greatly. I am glad that even though I did not think I would be using SAS this directly, I still made the effort to learn the syntax and application, and ended up in the top of the class. If I had not taken this initiative, I may not be where I am today. Also, thanks to you for continually demonstrating real-world applications of SAS that always renewed my interest and desire to learn."
What is the most innovative way you have used SAS?
If we stay on the "finding students a job" problem, it is bringing in data from real-world, health-related problems and discussing how one would use SAS to help organize, analyze and present the data that helps address the problems. Rather than stick to example data sets from books, using real-world data from the state health department, the World Bank, etc., makes learning SAS more interesting for students.
What is your most memorable SAS moment?
My most memorable SAS moments come when I get emails from ex-students with a SAS related question, sometimes from someone I've not heard from in more than five years. I offer a "lifetime warranty" for my courses and the subject line of many of these emails is "lifetime warranty question." Those notes let me know a few things. First, the student has a job. Second, they are using something that I taught them in their work (and maybe it helped them get that job). Third, I can tell current students about the question so they see the value of learning SAS.
See more about this lifetime warranty in the full University at Albany School of Public Health success story.
How has SAS changed in the time you have been using it?
I started using SAS 5.18 on a mainframe. The advent of PC SAS was a huge change. The addition of ODS was also a great transformation in the use of SAS. I do a lot of work with GMAP, and I even wrote a book, Maps Made Easy Using SAS. The addition of map-related PROCs (MAPIMPORT, GINSIDE) has really helped.