SAS has renewed its Global Academic Program (GAP) partnership with the Centre for Business Mathematics and Informatics (BMI) at North-West University (NWU) for another five years, extending its impact in data skills development.
The partnership has seen over 500 SAS-skilled students complete Centre’s leading Business Mathematics and Informatics (BMI) Masters program since its inception. Specialisations include Business Analytics, Actuarial Science, Quantitative Risk Management and Financial Mathematics.
“SAS was founded in 1976 at the North Carolina State University by academics and researchers, so involvement with academia is in our DNA,” says Andre Zitzke, manager: global academic programs in Africa for SAS. “The nature of work is changing, with the application of analytics capable of providing solutions to any question imaginable. We see it as part of our mission to grow the ecosystem of people capable of doing that work. Through partnerships like this one, we support growing a sustained pipeline of postgraduate data science skills to our customers and the local market.”
The partnership not only develops data and analytics skills amongst students. It also enables educators to bridge the gap between academia and industry. “We help train faculties to deliver the latest in technology, but this is done in a collaborative triangular approach that includes our customers. They, too, bring their top-tier research and professional talent to create practical experience programmes, technical experience programmes and professional networking,” Zitzke adds.
Professor Helgard Raubenheimer, Director at the Centre for BMI says: “NWU is the SAS Flagship University in South Africa and contributes thought-leadership to the global SAS Academic Network. We’re proud of our achievements, and of our 10 specialisations we’ve developed with SAS from undergraduate to master level, and we are committed to building on these further.”
The partnership seeks to meet growing corporate demand for data and analytics skills, while supporting NWU in its objective to deliver highly skilled and employable graduates to the workforce. To this end, SAS provides the full stack of SAS Academic resources, open access to SAS Data Science software for teaching and research and sponsors the SASLab chair.
“The NWU SASLab is the Big Data Science reference for universities in Africa and the Middle East, with a rich, peer-reviewed Academic Research output,” Prof Raubenheimer says. “It hosts the one of the largest SAS Big Data installation in Africa for Data Science Teaching and Research and is available as a resource to other Universities as well.”
The Centre for BMI also actively engages and contributes to building programs in Middle East, Africa, Turkey and ASEAN.
More than 75% of the Centre for BMI’s Masters graduates are employed by SAS customers and partners, in South Africa and abroad. Graduates with expertise in an industry standard like SAS, as well as open-source skills, stand out in the competitive job market. Digital credentials that validate expertise, augment and enhance degrees do carry significant weight with savvy employers seeking people who can get the job done.
“The professional networking opportunities created by our triangular approach are crucial. Mentorship and career development are as important in the development of data professionals. When we expose young people to successful leaders in their career fields, we create a standard to emulate. This is what moulds the next generation of industry leaders across the world,” concludes Zitzke.