SAS and Clemson University deploy AI and machine learning software for education and research

$3.3 million gift builds SAS skills among students and supports analysis of massive datasets

Clemson students and faculty will have access to powerful data science and analytics software from SAS thanks to a new, $3.3 million donation to support teaching and academic research. Extending a 2017 partnership, the latest gift from SAS includes access to SAS® Viya®, the company’s flagship artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and data management platform.

“Clemson’s partnership with SAS has greatly benefitted our faculty, staff and students, and I am grateful for this gift that will continue to provide them with the best software and hands-on experience,” said Clemson President James P. Clements.

SAS Viya enables users to transform raw data into powerful insights. These insights will allow Clemson researchers to make sense of large data sets and explore various critical topics. Researchers intend to study important areas such as racial inequities in education, wildlife disease, addiction, agriculture and the human genome. SAS will also provide teaching materials and on-site training for faculty and staff to help them integrate SAS into coursework and research.

“Clemson’s students, faculty and researchers will be able to use the latest industry-leading SAS AI and advanced analytics software to learn new skills and generate new breakthroughs,” said SAS CEO Jim Goodnight.

Expanding an innovative partnership

Since 2017, Clemson’s Watt Family Innovation Center has served as the primary hub for SAS training, seminars and technical support. With this latest gift, the Watt Center aims to partner with Clemson Computing and Information Technology to educate users on SAS capabilities, assist with program onboarding and oversee SAS analytics and data science certification administration. SAS is also available through the university’s Palmetto Cluster supercomputer, drastically reducing processing times.

The SAS partnership with Clemson creates a competitive edge for students with a knowledge of SAS Viya and other analytics skills. Last year, more than 143,000 job postings listed SAS as a desired skill, according to Emsi Burning Glass, an aggregator of labor market data. Clemson integrates SAS into courses to better prepare students for careers in health care, financial services, the public sector and more.

“By integrating SAS into coursework, we’re helping strengthen literacy in data science,” says Cynthia Young, founding dean of the College of Science. “Our students become more competitive, our alumni are more successful, and our state and nation are getting more of a workforce that understands SAS and is better prepared to advance many industries as they harness the power of data.”

Analyzing huge datasets to improve health care quality

Brian Witrick, a fifth-year PhD student, entered Clemson’s applied health research and evaluation program to better understand analytics. However, he didn’t expect this knowledge to create a statewide impact on disparities in health care.

Along with his advisor, Witrick uses SAS to analyze a registry of people with peripheral artery disease to determine disparities in care. Peripheral artery disease can be very painful and, in some cases, lead to amputations. Witrick and his team use SAS to examine disparities in care across South Carolina.

“The practical implications of using SAS on this project are pretty amazing,” says Witrick. “Utilizing SAS allows us to identify the problem and then create potential solutions and interventions.”

Previously, the team has struggled with the enormity of data in their registry, including hundreds of thousands of observations. With SAS, Clemson has reduced data processing time by 82%. A processing job that used to last seven days now takes only 30 hours.

As Witrick thinks about the next steps after receiving his doctorate, he knows his work with SAS is far from over. “SAS is helping eliminate barriers in health care, but I think this gift helps eliminate barriers when it comes to access to technology,” he says. “As much time as I’ve had working with SAS, it’s nice to know that there’s so much more that I could do with it. Dare I say the sky is the limit.”

Building brighter futures through education

From preschool to adult learners, SAS has initiatives to support learners at all stages. Through free software, education partnerships and philanthropy, SAS promotes early learning and literacy, builds analytics and STEM skills and fosters diversity in a technology-driven workforce.

The recently launched SAS Skill Builder for Students is a free global program available to higher education students to learn SAS skills, get certified and find a job. In addition, more than 400 higher education institutions around the world integrate SAS into coursework and research efforts through the Academic Specialization program.

About Clemson University

One of the most productive public research universities in the nation, Clemson University enrolls 27,341 students across the State of South Carolina and has an endowment of over $1 billion. The University operates Extension offices in every county of the state and has five innovation campuses and six Research and Education Center locations. Classified as an R1 — Very High Research University by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching — Clemson is dedicated to teaching, research and service. For more information, go to

About SAS

SAS is a global leader in data and AI. With SAS software and industry-specific solutions, organizations transform data into trusted decisions. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

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Clemson students and faculty, including those at the Watt Family Innovation Center, will have access to powerful SAS data science and analytics software to support teaching and academic research.