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First Business Analytics Undergraduate Practicum Is Smashing Success

Undergraduate students from across Georgia Tech take part in the inaugural business analytics practicum class.
Haley McElroy presents supplier delivery insights during the AGCO team presentation.

Haley McElroy presents supplier delivery insights during the AGCO team presentation.

For almost 10 years, the BAC has coordinated graduate-level business analytics practicum courses. This semester, for the first time, undergraduate students were given the same opportunity.

And, they knocked it out of the park.

“As part of our push to expand our undergraduate reach, we were extremely excited to offer this new class. The companies we work with have asked to interact more with Georgia Tech’s amazing undergraduates, plus it’s a great experiential learning opportunity for the students,” explains BAC Managing Director Keith Werle. “We suspected they would do well, but this inaugural group surpassed our highest expectations.”

The two teams of undergraduate students spent the semester analyzing a business challenge for TK Elevator and AGCO, then presented their analytic insights to company representatives as well as other Atlanta tech leaders at a recent showcase at Scheller.

“The intelligent and well-thought-out presentations and work completed were very on-brand for Georgia Tech,” said Tito Nieves, data science manager, Decision Analytics, Home Depot. “It was exciting to see what Georgia Tech undergraduates are capable of putting together.”

Scheller-vators.jpgStudents working on the TK Elevator project (The Scheller 'Vators) included Saket Thadani, 4th-year Scheller, Accounting; Whit Blass, 4th-year ISyE, Analytics/Data Science; Eli Katz, a 4th-year ISyE, Analytics/Data Science; and Daniel Zhou, 3rd-year Scheller, Strategy/Innovation.

“I was very impressed—both with the caliber of the presentations as well as the insights created,” said Brian Jackson, senior manager, Data and Analytics, TK Elevator. “We hope to take back some of their insights and put them to work for us.”

During the question and answer, TK Elevator’s Senior Data Engineer Brett Middleton caused considerable laughter with his comment: “I’ve never been a big believer in analytics, but you guys changed my mind. No one has ever been able to explain it so well.”

agco-teamStudents working on the AGCO challenge included Sadie Frame, 4th year, Scheller, Strategy and Innovation; Christian Mattei, 4th year, ISyE; Haley McElroy, 4th year, Scheller, IT; Emma Watkins, 4th year, Economics; and Peixian He, 4th year, Chemistry.

 “The quality of their work was amazing,” said Adrian Crawford, director of business analytics at AGCO. “I enjoyed hearing about the outcomes they came up with. They definitely gave us a lot to think about.”

The students appreciated the chance to gain real-world experience:

“This was the most useful course I took at Tech,” said Eli Katz. “We were able to apply so many things we learned in class and then the cherry on top was being able to present to the companies and hear their reactions.”

“The opportunity to work with a company one-on-one was priceless,” said Sadie Frame. "The team aspect of it was valuable—we had four different majors and we all brought different strengths. It was a great chance to apply what we learned at Tech.”

“I loved the freedom of having the opportunity to create our own solution and knowing it could help TK Elevator make a data-based decision. We weren’t limited by a parameter made up in a classroom,” said Saket Thadani.

"I really learned a lot from this project. I found out that analyzing real-world data is different and more challenging than what we do in the classroom," said Peixian He. "I really appreciate that the Institute provided us with this kind of opportunity and I can move into my future career with confidence based on experience."

“Seeing how data science is strategically used within a company was extremely valuable,” said Emma Watkins.

“Working with real-world data was eye-opening—and hard,” said Christian Mattei. “I learned a lot.”

"This class has been so rewarding because it gave me the chance to work with real data that has a real impact on a company," said Haley McElroy. "It’s also been great to have Keith Werle giving us advice and new ideas throughout the entire process."

“I really enjoyed learning about analytics and the meaning you can derive from it,” said Daniel Zou. “Learning about the elevator industry was fun too. From now on, I don’t think I’ll ever get in an elevator without thinking about this class.”

“It was difficult but infinitely rewarding,” said Whit Blass. “And a lot more fun than most classes!”

After the success of the undergraduate beta test, the BAC will work with Georgia Tech to offer a permanent version of the class beginning next Spring.


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