Friday - February 15, 2019
ECU, SAS Join Forces
Written by Bruce Ferrell   
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 11:58

GREENVILLE --  East Carolina University and analytics leader SAS will join forces to help rural areas overcome economic, educational and health disparities. Using analytics and data visualization, ECU and SAS will work together to support ECU’s recently launched Rural Prosperity Initiative as well as efforts to rapidly grow the university’s research enterprise.

Cary-based SAS will help ECU develop a new generation of technologies, microbusinesses and strategies to boost quality of life in rural North Carolina. In addition, professors, students and researchers will be able to access and apply advanced SAS analytics, business intelligence and data management software toward that goal.

In September, as part of its Rural Prosperity Initiative, ECU launched its big data and analytics research cluster, one of eight research clusters intended to enlist faculty and researchers from across the university to carry out the initiative’s mission. That mission is to focus university resources on combating health problems that plague eastern NC, fostering new economic opportunities and helping ECU and area K-12 schools produce more talent for today’s workforce.

“Working with SAS is just the kind of public-private relationship that we feel is the next step toward greatly expanding ECU’s research enterprise,” said ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton. “This collaboration in particular will provide critical resources and expertise to tackle the challenges in eastern North Carolina and, indeed, much of rural America. We hope this is just the start of a long, successful relationship.”

A new facility will house the cluster on ECU’s future Millennial Campus so government and community leaders can work with ECU researchers to visualize and analyze big data in innovative ways, including virtual reality, in order to make more effective decisions.

“Big data” refers to data sets with sizes beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, curate, manage and process within a reasonable time. It can be unstructured, semi-structured and structured data; however, the main focus is on unstructured data. As such, it requires techniques and technologies with new forms of integration to reveal insights and make the information useful.

“In order to make the most effective decisions and investments to drive the economy and improve the quality of life in rural and coastal communities, ECU researchers must have access to insights that only big data and analytics can provide,” said Jay Golden, ECU vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement. “SAS Analytics will help our ECU faculty and students discover the ‘why’ behind the data by uncovering hidden relationships and trends.

“Using predictive analytics and forecasting tools, ECU researchers and our community partners will be able to dig deeper into ‘what if’ and ‘what next’ scenarios – a capability lacking in the past,” Golden said. “We are very appreciative of SAS’ generous support of ECU’s mission and look forward to further enhancing our partnership.”

More information about the ECU Rural Prosperity Initiative is at

SAS also will provide teaching materials and on-site training for faculty and staff and help develop analytical programs. Researchers and students will be able to integrate SAS software into their research and engagement activities, giving students hands-on experience with this highly marketable skill.

In fact, in a massive study of 54 million employee profiles, examined which career skills translated into salary bumps. SAS skills topped the list.

“This is an opportunity for SAS to support a university initiative that benefits the people of our home state,” said Emily Baranello, vice president of the SAS Education Practice. “ECU’s research, powered by the data and analytics at the heart of innovation today, could transform the lives and futures of rural North Carolinians.”

SAS’ longstanding efforts to prepare more graduates for the marketplace complements ECU’s academic and service commitments. This collaboration will advance education, innovation and economic developments throughout North Carolina and the nation.




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