Students in Michigan Tech’s Business Intelligence class (MIS3400) spent less time hitting the books this semester and more time focused on an innovative, real-world project that was the result of an industry partnership with Revenue Management Solutions (RMS) headquartered in Tampa, Florida. In this upper-level class, the skills learned in previous courses were put to the test as five teams of students were provided access to a warehouse of test data from a simulated Michigan client. The assignment was to create meaningful business information from the mountain of data, and to formulate strategic recommendations for the coming fiscal year. And, creativity was a required element.
Before the project began, students chose critical roles within their teams – e.g. Consultant, Analyst, and/or Developer. During the final class session of the semester, the teams presented their prototypes and recommendations in person to the client liaison/RMS representative. Following the team presentations Ashley Johnson encouraged the students to seek out internships if they enjoyed the work performed in the class. She also commended the groups for communicating openly with her as a client throughout this scenario.
“You have done great work here,” said Ashley. “As you move forward in your careers, remember to add this to your resume, that you have created a data warehouse and are comfortable analyzing big data sets. This is exactly the type of work I would expect to see in my office,” said Ashley Johnson, Data Analytics Manager with RMS.
The student teams were told to approach the project as if the transactional data were collected from an actual client’s business enterprise. The two years’ worth of data were used to analyze performance in relation to the competition, item profitability, top product-drivers, etc. The expectation was that students learn database software skills including data extract/transform/load (ETL) using the SQL Server suite of applications, as well as Microsoft Visual Studio, Excel, Access, and other Windows 7 software for completing the final proposal. This activity provided experiential learning that mirrors the work performed by IS/IT professionals in industry today. Lessons learned will be incorporated in the next course offering as we strive for continuous improvement of our innovative MIS curriculum.