High demand for places at SAS academies, says CEO Jim Goodnight

By Danny Palmer
11 Jun 2013 View Comments
SAS chief executive Jim Goodnight

Demand for SAS-based higher education courses is so high that only a small percentage of prospective students who apply for qualifications in the subject at university actually get a place at an institution, SAS CEO Jim Goodnight has told Computing.

The firm sponsors several courses at Master's degree level in advanced analytics, which aim to improve the pool of individuals with the skills required for businesses to get the most out of big data.

"Our biggest one is at North Carolina State University where 80 students just graduated with a Master's degree in Advanced Analytics and are now experts at analysing large amounts of data and doing forecasting," Goodnight said in an interview with Computing at the SAS Premier Business Leadership Conference in Amsterdam.

Further reading

He added that Louisiana State University and Texas A&M are also beginning similar courses this year.

"We are working with a number of universities around the world to create Master's degree programmes to help develop people that are talented - I guess you could call them data scientists - people whose main skillset is working with large amounts of data and analysing it," he said.

Goodnight also revealed that demand for places on the courses is exceeding capacity.

"At North Carolina State it's my understanding that they had about 450 applications for next fall, but they can only take 80, because that's just the size of the facilities they teach in. So it's going to take a long time to get the demand satisfied ," he said, adding that those with the qualifications are going on to lucrative careers in big data and analytics.

"These people going out and getting $100,000 jobs, so it's very much worth the $19,000 it costs to get that degree."

SAS-based education can also be accessed by schoolchildren of all ages in a number of American schools, something that Goodnight believes is already beginning to reap rewards.

"We've made our entire curriculum pathways available to all kids from curriculum to 12th grade. Curriculum pathways is online course material that allows students to access that source information so that its used in a blended classroom where the teacher is teaching some then the kids do a unit of work themselves," he said.

"We have about 25 high schools that are teaching SAS as a course, and a lot of those kids are going into computer science afterwards, so it's a great beginning going into learning how to use computers," the SAS CEO added.

SAS recently opened an academy in the UK through a joint initiative with Birmingham City University as the firm attempts to close the e-skills gap. Watch a video featuring the thoughts of e-Skills UK, Birmingham City University, students and SAS on the academy here.

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