SAS celebrates teaching and analytics excellence

SAS honors Des Moines Area Community College, FAMU professor and Student Ambassadors

Des Moines Area Community College analyzes data to identify at-risk students, help students select the right coursework, and even track their performance in the workforce. At Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Dr. Charlotte Baker is teaching grad students to use analytics to explore health threats. Analytics leader SAS is honoring both, along with the 2016 SAS Student Ambassadors, at SAS Global Forum.

“These honorees demonstrate the diverse ways that the thoughtful teaching and use of analytics can help students and institutions succeed,” said SAS CEO Jim Goodnight.

SAS Excellence in Education Award

Traditionally, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) relied on ACT and entrance exams to place students into regular or developmental courses. Many colleges do. Using SAS® Analytics, DMACC discovered that the entrance tests had very little correlation to student performance. Actually, it was the developmental courses themselves that were the problem. Students paying full tuition for semester-long, no-credit courses often gave up.

Today, DMACC offers a college readiness class and counseling to prepare future students for full admission the next semester. Inexpensive online refresher classes help students with low English or math placement test scores build the skills they’ll need to succeed in school.

That’s just one example of a broader effort to use analytics to help the school meet its goals to improve retention and graduation rates. It’s just one reason why DMACC earned this year’s SAS Excellence in Education award.

DMACC is using analytics and data visualization from SAS to access, integrate and manage data. With SAS software’s data management and reporting capabilities, DMACC administrators and educators can identify at-risk students before it’s too late, and help them select the right coursework.

DMACC supplements placement test scores with additional student data to predict which students will succeed. The school gathers data about first-time college students throughout the application, admission and registration processes. They have even more data on returning students, including past academic performance.

DMACC’s data-driven culture extends to following up with graduates to see how they're doing in the “real world.” Comparing students’ career situations with the course loads they took, DMACC builds a model of what makes a successful student. That information helps current and future students on their journeys to college degrees and promising futures.

SAS Distinguished Professor Award

Charlotte Baker’s passion for research and analytics infuses her graduate students as they investigate dangers to human health. An Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at FAMU, Baker is the recipient of the 2016 SAS Distinguished Professor award.  

For the past three years, Baker has taught epidemiology, and SAS, to graduate students in the FAMU Institute of Public Health and the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is an avid SAS user in her own research into sports injuries, health disparities and blood disorders.  

Baker understands that in order to meet the high demand for analytical talent, her students must be equipped, with SAS skills. But they also must be able to research, present their work, and communicate effectively with audiences.  To give them that experience and exposure, Baker created FAMU’s SAS User Group. She regularly hosts SAS workshops for students and faculty, presents at user group meetings, and supports student involvement in other SAS events and competitions.

The SAS Student Ambassador Program recognizes and supports students using SAS in innovative ways that benefit their respective fields of study. The 2016 ambassadors are:

Sara Armandi, University of Copenhagen

Katherine Cai, Arizona State University

Matthew Collins, University of Alabama

Lucy D’Agostino McGowan, Vanderbilt University

Kyle Irimata, Arizona State University

Cameron Jagoe, University of Alabama

Verlin Joseph, Florida A&M University

Vinoth Kumar Raja, Oklahoma State University

Niloofar Ramezani, University of Northern Colorado

Veronica Renauldo, Grand Valley State University

Sherrie Rodriguez, Kennesaw State University

Mostakim Tanjil, Oklahoma State University

New this year is the inaugural SAS Global Forum Student Symposium, in which eight teams of students and a faculty adviser present research using SAS Analytics. Three winning teams will receive financial assistance toward SAS Certification. Also, 10 university faculty, 18 students and 42 junior professionals received scholarships to attend SAS Global Forum for free.

Today's announcement was made at SAS Global Forum, the world's largest analytics conference, with more than 30,000 business and IT users of SAS software participating on-site and online.

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