addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscontroller-playcrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgooglegroupshelp-with-circleimageimagesinstagramFill 1light-bulblinklocation-pinm-swarmSearchmailmessagesminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1ShapeoutlookpersonJoin Group on CardStartprice-ribbonprintShapeShapeShapeShapeImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruserwarningyahoo

Data Science Education -- KSU, Emory and Georgia Tech Perspectives


We welcome three leading professors from local universities who will share their personal, professional and institutional views on data science trends in education, training and career development.

The format for this event is individual speaker presentations followed by an open Q&A panel session.

The Lineup

Dr. Jennifer Priestley -- Kennesaw State University

Unicorn Farms: What You Don’t Know About Data Science Education in Atlanta.

Wanted: Individual with strong programming skills (including R, SAS, Java, Hadoop, Python, Cassandra and MongoDB), equally comfortable working with large amounts of structured and unstructured data, highly numerate, excellent writing and charismatic communication skills.  Can interpret and apply results to a business problem.  Poised in front of a client.  And someone we want to have a beer with.  Advanced Programming Certification in SAS preferred. 

Variations of this job description can be found, well, everywhere.  But how many people have this skillset?  Some individuals (ask your local headhunter) have expressed concern that these people don’t really exist – they are mythical - like unicorns.  In response, they recommend that their clients just hire a team of horses and paint them in different colors. 

Since 2008, Kennesaw State University has quietly been tending to their “Unicorn Farm” and producing some of the region’s most sought after Data Scientists.  The Master’s Program in Applied Statistics and Data Analysis has a 100% placement rate with most students receiving multiple job offers well in advance of graduation.  The recent SAS Day event on May 2, drew over 300 analytics professionals from over 100 different companies to KSU to find their “unicorns”.

Come hear Dr. Jennifer Lewis Priestley, Professor of Applied Statistics and Data Science talk about how KSU is doing things differently.  How they developed their “farm” and what is next for KSU and for the region in the area of Data Science.   

Jennifer's Bio: 

Dr. Jennifer Priestley is an associate professor of statistics at Kennesaw State University, where she is the director of the Center for Statistics and Analytical Services. She also oversees the undergraduate curriculum in statistics and was recognized by the SAS Institute as the 2012 Distinguished Statistics Professor of the Year. She served as the co-chair of the 2012 National Analytics Conference in Las Vegas, NV.  She is leading KSU's efforts to launch a new PhD program in Analytics and Data Science.

Dr. George Easton -- Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Building Data Science-Capable MBAs

Professor Easton is currently developing an advanced MBA elective in Data Science which will be delivered for the first time in the Fall of 2014 at the Goizuetta Business School, Emory University. The objectives and framing of such a course are different than for a course developed for students in a statistics or computer science department.

In his remarks, Prof. Easton will discuss the motivation and framing of the course and what the objective is in terms of the “product” of the course; that is, the characteristics and abilities of the students at the end of the course. He will also discuss the perspective he will take on what data science is, what abstractions the students must understand (e.g., cross-validation, API, cloud computing), and his choices for computing (AWS, R, Python). Finally, he will discuss other issues in the “penumbra” around core data science activity (such as open source licensing, privacy, agile software development, data science strategy) that might be very important for a data-science oriented MBA student to understand.

George's Bio:

George Easton is Associate Professor in the Information Systems and Operations Management area at the Goizueta Business School, Emory University. He received his Ph.D. in Statistics from Princeton University in 1985.  His dissertation advisor was Prof. John W. Tukey, a pioneer in creating “data analysis” as a distinct approach to applied statistics.  Tukey’s data analysis perspective has been a strong influence on Prof. Easton’s statistical work. Professor Easton has published his research in leading statistics journals and his research in statistics has focused on data visualization and robust estimation and prediction.  Professor Easton also has interests in quality management and six sigma, and has published research in this area in leading journals in operations management.  Professor Easton has extensive consulting experience in both applied statistics and quality management working on a wide variety of real-world problems over the years.  

Dr. Joel Sokol -- Georgia Institute of Technology

The Evolution of Data Science Education (and what Georgia Tech is doing about it :)

The expectations of data science and analytics in business and industry have changed dramatically over the last several years, and are still in flux.  Interdisciplinarity and breadth of knowledge are becoming more widely acknowledged as important, while depth of expertise is also becoming more critical.  How can academia meet the competing needs of more breadth and more depth without making students spend years getting a degree?  With a unique (east of California and south of Massachusetts) set of resources to build upon, Georgia Tech's new interdisciplinary Master of Science in Analytics is designed to provide a 12-month education for the data science and analytics professionals of the future.  Come hear our vision, find out about our program, and learn how you can connect as a student or as an employer.

Joel's Bio:

Joel Sokol is Fouts Family Associate Professor in ISyE and Director of Georgia Tech's interdisciplinary Master of Science in Analytics.. His primary research interests are in sports analytics and applied operations research. He has worked with teams or leagues in all three of the major American sports. Dr. Sokol's LRMC method for predictive modeling of the NCAA basketball tournament is an industry leader, and his non-sports reseach has won the EURO Management Science Strategic Innovation Prize. Dr. Sokol has also won recognition for his teaching and curriculum development from IIE and the NAE, and is the recipient of Georgia Tech's highest awards for teaching. He currently serves as INFORMS Vice President of Education, and is a past Chair and founding officer of the INFORMS section on sports operations research. Dr. Sokol's PhD in operations research is from MIT, and his bachelor's degrees in mathematics, computer science, and applied sciences in engineering are from Rutgers University.


6:30p - Doors open - Networking, food, & drinks

7:05p - Welcome & announcements

7:15p - Panel presentations

8:15p - Open Q&A

8:30p - Networking

9:00p - Goodnight & Thanks!


Our events are only made possible by the generous support of our sponsors.  Sponsorship provides great visibility for your organization, and allows you to directly reach our growing 1400+ membership.

If you would like to sponsor this event, or one in the future, please contact Travis Turney. 

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    Inviting all students to check out our upcoming Data and Analytics Student Career Fair - Sept 10 from 11am -2pm. For more info and to register, visit:

    August 30, 2016

  • Travis T.

    July 9, 2014

  • Brian H.

    Thanks everyone for the great turnout, presentations and participation. I saw many new faces. I mentioned an upcoming machine learning conference: see more at To see more about Munich Re:

    1 · June 23, 2014

  • Jennifer P.

    I thoroughly enjoued being part of the conversation last night! Thank you for having me. To @BillB - sorry if the comments came across as an "ad" - I think we were just trying to describe what we are doing respectively to provide specific context to Data Science education in Atlanta. Perhaps at another meet up, if there is an interest, we could just have a panel discussion regarding our perspectives on different topics in the education space (no program "ads") - like where I think we were going at the end with the Q&A.

    3 · June 12, 2014

    • Bill B

      No need to apologize for the promotions, I just didn't expect it and clearly I'm ad-averse! I know many in the audience were there just for that reason, including a friend of mine sitting next to me who is trying to decide which of those three schools to send his son to, so it's fine. You can't have that many people in an audience and do precisely what all of them want! BTW, the high point of 'your' talk for me was to hear you refer to me as a 'kid' five times. It was worth coming just for that! :-)

      2 · June 12, 2014

    • Bill B

      Oh and it's worth noting that my impatience with the ads is largely because I already made my choice of which program to attend and that meeting confirmed in spades that it is the right choice.

      2 · June 12, 2014

  • Frank H.

    Here.. Here..

    Well stated. Innovation, R&D and Forward Leadership requires investment of resources with the long term view beyond the next quarter or or end or year results. It also requires cooperation on risk taking and not risk shifting. Last but not least finding the balance between mid term and long term benefits and results is most effective in getting that cooperation between the parties.

    Once again, Big Thank You to Brian, Jennifer, George, and Joel....

    1 · June 12, 2014

  • Nicholas B.

    First, thanks for Brain Holland to host the meeting and feed us.
    As Joel, George and Jennifer stated , learning and doing analytic will take an active effort by employers to let talented professionals grow thru nurturing, academia will encourage statistical professionals to learn current analytic processes and work thru to an answer. Academia and firms need to become more aligned to helping each other and provide resources to get talented statistical students to come to work for them. I learned allot in a short time of how much 'talent' was in the room last night. Thank you!

    2 · June 12, 2014

  • Bill B

    didn't realize much of it would be an ad for the 3 schools. Would have preferred less of that. Otherwise, very instructive. Glad I went.

    June 11, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a great program, which I could be there!

    1 · June 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can someone offer a ride please to the venue from around Georgia Tech campus and back? Will share fuel cost.

    June 6, 2014

  • Andrew G.

    Marta directions:

    By train (MARTA): Dunwoody Station
    (If walking, Dunwoody Station is closest to the office)
    One-way train fare: $3.50
    Bus information: Route 150 There is a free shuttle from Dunwoody Station to the building which runs approximately every 20 minutes, between 3:30 pm and 7:00 pm. The shuttle is provided and directed by SecurAmerica

    1 · June 3, 2014

  • amanda y.

    April 30, 2014

  • Kumar

    Interested in learning new technologies in data field

    March 19, 2014

Our Sponsors

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy