Posted on June 4, 2018 by Joanna Carver

Classmates and colleagues James Perry and Robert Steele recently completed a project as part of their Data Foundations class in the UTSA College of Business M.S. Data Analytics (MSDA) program that resulted not only in a top grade, but also benefited their employer.

Data analytics graphic“We saw a unique opportunity to leverage the skills we learned in web scraping to help improve patient care at our company,” said Perry, a risk management analyst and first-year MSDA student. “This was a groundbreaking new process for our company because it allowed us to gather patient data that we did not have in our own data streams and place into the hands of our providers who need it to provide better care for our patients.”

Data foundations is a critical part of data analytics and is often the most challenging and time-consuming part of the analysis. It exposes students to a variety of data sources, types and forms and teaches them how to store, process, cleanse and transform each type.

“While there were several outstanding projects as part of my class, what made James and Robert’s project stand out was their assignment was immediately applicable in the workplace,” said Eric Bachura, teaching assistant and Ph.D. student. “Additionally, I was assisting them in the blind due to the sensitive nature of the data and information they were collecting.”

Using Python programming learned in class, they developed an automated process to retrieve data for 6,000 new patients. The benefits to their employer were substantial and represented a potential $3.4 million in revenue.

“It was a pleasure working with these students,” said Bachura. “I really appreciated their hard work and enthusiasm.”

Working in their organization’s risk adjustment department, James and Robert joined the MSDA program last fall to expand their knowledge in this growing area. “This project had a big impact on our company,” said Steele, a data analyst with a background in electrical engineering. “Now we have a whiteboard full of ideas and future projects to pursue using our new knowledge.”

Building on the initial project, they plan to scale the project to be used in future patient expansions. And, the techniques are applicable to other web-based applications as well.

“Most of our professors have been consultants or worked in industry, so they can speak to how to approach a problem from a business perspective,” said Perry, who has a background in mathematics. “I love this program because it is immediately applicable.”

The MSDA program produces highly skilled and educated data analysts who can transform Big Data into usable information for decision-makers across a variety of disciplines. Drawing upon experiential learning, students apply their education by performing real-world data analytics. Offered in both a daytime and evening format, the program admits new students every fall and is completed in 12-21 months. For more information about the program, visit the website or contact the college’s advisors at .

Wendy Frost—

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— Joanna Carver