Carl H. Lindner College of Business: An Abode for Excellence in Big Data and Analytics Education

Dr. Edward Winkofsky

The University of Cincinnati (UC), the premier urban research university for the state of Ohio, traces its origins to 1819, in which the Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio were chartered. In 1870, the City of Cincinnati established the University of Cincinnati, which later absorbed the two predecessor institutions. In 1968, UC became a “municipally sponsored, state affiliated” institution, entering a transitional period that culminated on July 1, 1977, when UC joined the university system of Ohio. Today, the University of Cincinnati is classified as a Research University (Very High Research Activity) by the Carnegie Commission and is ranked as one of America’s top 25 public research universities by the National Science Foundation. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC in the Top Tier of America’s Best Colleges.

The Carl H. Lindner College of Business dates back to 1906 when the Cincinnati College of Finance, Commerce, and Accounts was established. In 1912, the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees took over the college and established the College of Commerce as an integral part of the university.

In 1919, the College of Commerce was merged with the College of Engineering to form the College of Engineering Commerce and was awarded accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). In 1946, the college resumed operation as a separate entity, the College of Business, and offered its own baccalaureate. 12-years later, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program was started, in 1966 the Ph.D. program was added, and in 1978, a Master of Science (MS) program began. In 2011, the college was named after Carl Henry Lindner, Jr., an internationally recognized businessman, and philanthropist, for his extraordinary support of the university and his legacy of entrepreneurship and excellence in business.

As part of a public research university, the Lindner College of Business understands the fundamental importance of integrating real industry experience with classroom learning. The goal of the college is to deliver a top-rated education to students and value-added service to the business community.

Currently, the Linder College of Business enrolls over 3,500 undergraduate students and more than 1,100 graduate students and provides them with unique opportunities to build professional experience, cultural competency, and leadership skills through co-operative education, internships, field-study research, and cross-disciplinary studios.

 

Distinct Pedagogy to Build Analytical Skills

The Linder College of Business’s program core courses are in optimization, simulation modeling, probability modeling, data management, statistical methods, and data mining. Elective courses include data visualization, forecasting, big data integration, multivariate statistics, data wrangling, operations management, and case studies. The capstone experience requires students to demonstrate their skills through a research project, an extended case analysis, or an internship.

The program may be completed as either a full-time student or as a part-time student and can be completed in as few as nine months. It features nationally-ranked and world-class faculty who conduct advanced analytics research. Textbooks authored by UC business analytics faculty are used at more than 400 different institutions including University of Arizona, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, NC State, New York University, University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Texas, USC, Vanderbilt University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Students also benefit from the corporate and academic partnership with the Center for Business Analytics which provides real-world data analytics experience and career opportunities and promotes industry leadership and research to advance the field of business analytics.

The Lender College offers financial aid in the form of scholarships and assistantships and is awarded on a competitive basis.

The program is recognized as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program.

 

An Exemplary Leadership

Dr. Edward Winkofsky has been the Academic Director of the MS-Business Analytics (MS-BANA) Department of Operations, Business Analytics, and Information Systems for the last five years. During that time, he has guided the program through a significant period of growth while maintaining the quality of the incoming classes and its placement rate. From 2013 to 2018, the program has grown by over 40 percent. The job placement rate has averaged more than 90 percent within three months of graduation, which was 95 percent in 2018.

According to Edward, the curriculum has been adjusted to reflect changes in analytics. Through core courses and electives, there is a greater focus on data management, data wrangling, data mining, and big data. The new student orientation program has been expanded to provide all students with a basic understanding of Python, R, and SAS.

The capstone has been expanded including an internship option, which allows a student to gain significant work experience contributing to a company while applying the skills and knowledge obtained in the program.

 

Technological Advances that Provide Edge

The edge that Linder College’s Analytics and Data Science program has in comparison to other institutes is that it combines deep technical course content taught by world-class faculty with a strong emphasis on practical applications. Edward stated that “UC has a strong history of experiential education as it is the birthplace of cooperative education. Our MS-BANA program has a similar focus on experiential education. Due to our location in Cincinnati, OH, students benefit from close proximity to the headquarters of many leading analytics organizations including Procter & Gamble, GE Aviation, Macy’s, Kroger, and many others.”

The MS-BANA program at UC also has an extensive history and is one of the oldest such programs in existence. The precursor to the MS-BANA program, the MS-Quantitative Analysis degree, has been offered since the late 1970s. Throughout its existence, the course work has been a combination of statistics and operations research with a focus on practical applications. The program was rebranded as MS-Business Analytics in 2011 and has been constantly updated to keep up with changes in the marketplace and technology.

 

Offering Unmatched Industry Experience to Enhance Skills

To provide practical exposure to students, Edward says, “All students must complete a capstone as part of their MS-BANA curriculum. This typically involves a three-month paid internship with a company in an analytics role or working on an applied-analytics project. In all cases, the capstone is overseen by a faculty member, and the student must submit a detailed report that demonstrates his or her analytical skills.”

Moreover, the UC Center for Business Analytics facilitates additional opportunities for students to work with organizations on real analytics programs. The Center currently has 27 member organizations who provide financial support to fund operations. It works with the member companies to find suitable projects for Linder College’s MS-BANA students and provides extensive professional training on specialized analytics topics. The center’s events draw top speakers and hundreds of attendees for networking opportunities. The Center employs between five to seven MS-BANA students as graduate assistants throughout the year. Between 40 and 45, MS-BANA students worked on Center-supported projects in the 2018-19 academic year.

 

Being the Most Employable Institution

One of the major strengths of the Linder College program is its breadth. Its students are trained in descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics. As a result, college graduates are being placed in some of the leading corporations in the country. Its recent placements include Amazon, Apple, Capital One, Google, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart. The Linder College LinkedIn Alumni group contains more than 400 members who serve as excellent resources for developing internship and permanent opportunities for the graduates.

The impact of the college’s department and graduates was recently recognized by the department being awarded the INFORMS UPS Smith Prize.

 

Achieving Academic Excellence

In 2019, the Lender College’s the Operations, Business Analytics & Information Systems (OBAIS) Department was awarded the prestigious INFORMS UPS Smith Prize for its excellence in strengthening the ties between industry and academia in the area of analytics.

The college’s 2018 rankings and awards include:

  • The MS-BANA program was named the top Master of Science in Data Science program in 2018 by Predictive Analytics Today.
  • MS-BANA program achieved an exceptional ranking in the 2018 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Masters in Business Analytics Global Rankings—No. 18 globally and No. 7 nationally among U.S. public universities, out of 300 schools in more than 40 countries.
  • MS-BANA program ranked in top 20 programs in North America by InformationWeek.

 

Overcoming Challenges

Edward believes in keeping up with the changes in technology, methods, and applications of data science and analytics has proven to be the most significant challenge the department faces. Luckily, the MS-BANA program is able to draw on both the exceptional talent of their full-time faculty as well as an extensive network of industry experts to continually innovate in their curriculum. The MS-BANA program has added new classes on topics such as Big Data Integration, Bayesian Analysis, Analytics in Python, etc., to support this quickly changing field.

 

Growth Drivers of the Big Data Analytic Industry

According to Edward, exceptional increases in access to computing resources (storage, speed, etc.) allows very difficult problems to be solved in new ways. The prevalence of data being generated constantly by individuals and organizations provide the input for advanced analytics techniques. Organizations are also rapidly learning how analytical analysis can significantly improve organizational performance. This recognition fuels their desire to identify and hire additional talent in this area. The Lindner College of Business has been able to expand its program to meet this growing demand.