Students Gain Access to Tech Tools through Industry Partnerships
Students in the Naveen Jindal School of Management are getting access to the latest industry software and apps thanks to strong partnerships between faculty and corporations.
The connections are giving students hands-on experience with new technological tools in accounting, information technology and management, marketing, and real estate.
The Jindal School’s partnership with IBM continues to grow, building on the success of the Morris Hite Center-IBM Marketing Customer Insights Competition last May. After the event, Randy Messina, worldwide public sector manager of Watson Analytics, noticed many Jindal School faculty and students were registering for the cloud-based data discovery tool. Messina contacted Alexander Edsel, director of the master's in marketing program, and reached an agreement to distribute 9,000 free licenses for UT Dallas students. The in-kind grant is valued at $270,000.
“We give students free access to our product for up to five years,” Messina said. “We know there’s a skills gap in the market. There are not enough data scientists or even everyday users who are able to make those key, day-to-day, data-driven decisions. If students graduate in four years, [they have] another year to use it in their workplace.”
The Jindal School is incorporating Watson Analytics into several marketing courses, including research and social media classes, Edsel said.
“The plan is to roll it out to some of the courses where it makes sense, especially since not all marketing students are heavily oriented toward analytics,” Edsel said. “It helps them become more comfortable with data by taking out some of the heavy lifting involved with getting the data into shape for analysis.”
IBM also has provided Jindal students with Silverpop, its marketing automation software.
“Staying on top of these emerging platforms is very important for our program to stay relevant to industry,” Edsel said.
Information Technology and Management
Dr. Mark Thouin
Dr. Mark Thouin, director of the master's in information technology and management program, understands the importance of partnerships with tech companies. Two courses, Data Visualization and Business Data Warehousing, utilize a desktop data exploration platform from Tableau, a company that offers its software free to fulltime students worldwide.
“Our students oftentimes go above and beyond what’s required of them in the classroom to acquire new knowledge,” Thouin said. “They’re always looking to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to other situations and settings.”
Sahil Ajmera, an information technology and management graduate student and president of the MIS Club, exemplifies that initiative. Ajmera reached out to Tableau and persuaded the company to send three representatives to an MIS Club event. The trainers provided more than 120 students in attendance with advice and tips on operating the software.
“We are looking to have additional events in the future and possibly bring Tableau in for some classroom presentations and discussions,” Thouin said.
George DeCourcy, associate director of the Jindal School’s real estate concentration, and Dr. Randall S. Guttery, director of real estate programs, have cultivated relationships with CCIM Institute, a real estate professional organization, and Xceligent, a company that develops data and market analytics for the commercial real estate industry. CCIM has a GIS-based mapping and data platform called Site To Do Business that Jindal School students can use for free. Xceligent offers the same access with its tools.
“Employers are demanding a higher level of touch on software tools,” DeCourcy said. “In real estate, we need to do the same thing. We need to have these tools available to them so that when they graduate, not only do they have the understanding and the typical academic rigor, but also they’ve had exposure to some of these real-world tools.”
Jennifer Johnson, a senior lecturer in accounting, is working with Intuit to transition her courses to QuickBooks’ cloud-based accounting software. Once that happens, students in her classes will get a free one-year license. Currently, the school pays for desktop licenses. She said her students will begin using the online version this fall.
“Intuit doesn’t offer the desktop version of QuickBooks for free because it is more complicated to install,” Johnson said. “Besides, they’re trying to move everybody to their cloud-based solution.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].