Industry, higher ed form partnerships

Jul 31, 2015, 6:00am EDT By: H.M.Cauley, Contributing Writer Preparing students to join the…

Georgia (Jul 31, 2015) — Preparing students to join the workforce, and making that transition a smooth one, is taking on increasing importance at the college level, spurred on by employers turning to institutes of higher learning to educate future workers for the demands of business and industry. The worlds of work and academia are forming partnerships to develop courses and internships that meet those needs — a practice that has long been the purview of technical colleges.


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Jul 31, 2015, 6:00am EDT
By: H.M.Cauley, Contributing Writer

“These partnerships are essential,” said Debby Cannon, director of Georgia State University’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality. “We’ve got the think tanks, the labs, the creative ways to put students and businesses together. With industries changing so quickly, especially in the area of technology, we’re constantly looking at how we can use our resources.”

That same approach has set the statistical analytics program at Kennesaw State University apart from the competition for 10 years, said Jennifer Priestley, who heads the school’s Center for Statistics and Analytical Services.

“Everything we’ve done in analytics at Kennesaw has been driven by the market, which is not a traditional path for academic institutions,” she said. “We went to the market and asked, ‘What is the gap? What do you need?’ We have a responsibility to the taxpayers of Georgia to train the next generation to contribute to the economy.”

Priestley met with executives from companies such as AT&T Inc., Southern Co., The Home Depot Inc., Equifax Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. to determine what their job descriptions demanded and to work toward training students to match those specifications.

“It was clear no university was training people to extract data, clean it, prep it and analyze it,” said Priestley. “It was revolutionary to have a program that taught those skills; usually they were taught across disciplines of math, computer science and business. We came up with an interdisciplinary program that crosses departments and colleges and reflects the demands of the market.”

The center launched in 2011 and provides students the chance to work on real projects that come in from other university departments as well as outside companies.

The applied statistics master’s program has been so successful that this fall, Kennesaw is extending the program into a Ph.D. of analytics and data science. Thirty-five students applied for five slots, and more are expected next year. “Our program is successful because we responded to the needs of the market,” said Priestley. “Every course we develop, everything we teach, comes from business leaders across the Atlanta area. And the university leadership understands that and has encouraged us to engage with the business community, to get students out of the classroom and integrated into various communities we’re affiliated with.” … 



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit