Businesses in today’s globally competitive and rapidly changing technological environment are increasingly resorting to multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving.
Regardless of a student’s prospective career field, the Fox School of Business are fosters the development data analysis and creative-thinking skills at every level. makes the strongest employee.
As part of its efforts to support interdisciplinary studies, the Fox School lends support and faculty leadership to activities that are open to students from Temple University’s 17 schools and colleges: the Temple Analytics Challenge data competition, and the Temple Art of Business/Business of Art (AB/BA) student professional organization.
Visualizing data-based solutions
The Temple Analytics Challenge started in 2013 as an outlet for students at Temple to develop their data analysis, information visualization, and communication skills. It focuses on making sense of big data through visualization, a key component of data analytics cited by experts as a promising path to job opportunities.
Participants work on scenarios using data from corporate partners, analyzing the data and presenting their findings in a way that is meaningful and understandable to a wide audience. Not only do students have a chance to work with real-world data and problems — this year’s theme is “Improving Global Health” and corporate partners Merck, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, and AmerisourceBergen are participating — they also have an opportunity to win up to $2,500 from a total pool of $12,000 in prize money.
“The Temple Analytics Challenge, by integrating analytics, big data, and visualization with real-world important problems, provides students with valuable, employable skill sets,” said George Llado, SVP and CIO of Alexion. “We are very excited to see how the students tackle the challenges of world health.”
The competition is not exclusive to Fox students, and is open to entrants from all 17 of Temple’s schools and colleges. In the past, winners and finalists have come from the Tyler School of Art, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering, the School of Media and Communications, the College of Public Health, and the Fox School.
This level of interdisciplinary competition doesn’t just benefit the participants. The corporate partners are looking for solutions to real-world problems. While the industry partners might be better versed with approaching the subject from a business-school perspective, they might not look at their data the same way an art or engineering student would.
The Fox School’s Institute of Business and Information Technology (IBIT) and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies sponsor the Temple Analytics Challenge, which is in its fourth year.
“A powerful aspect of the Analytics Challenge is that it gives all Temple students the opportunity to develop new data literacy skills,” said Laurel Miller, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at Fox, and a co-organizer of the competition.
“There’s an empowering aspect to this,” said Dr. David Schuff, Professor of MIS, and the Challenge’s creator and co-organizer. “I’ll often have students come to me who are interested in participating but unsure whether they have enough data analysis skill. We infuse the competition with workshops and one-on-one counseling to make sure all students have the support they need and the sense that this is something they can do.”
Melding art and business
Beyond the Temple Analytics Challenge, the Fox School bridges the gap between students in the art and business communities through the Art of Business/Business of Art (AB/BA) student professional organization.
Each year AB/BA members host guest speakers, an art-and-business networking event, and a university-wide creativity showcase, MESH: Redefining Art at Temple.
Speakers include: George Ciukurescu, FOX ’15, who played bass for the band Valencia, and is an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers; Conrad Benner, who founded popular Philly street art blog Streets Dept.; and Tiffica Benza, FOX ’01, and Ashley Peel-Pinkham, owners of Philadelphia Independents, an Old City shop that sells souvenirs made exclusively by Philly artists.
AB/BA members also help each other sell goods at Philly’s annual Punk Rock Flea Market, Tyler Alumni Art Market and Spruce Street Harbor Park.
By participating in AB/BA, Fox students with an art background can mentor Tyler students in business practices,” said Laurie Fitzpatrick, the organization’s faculty leader, and an Assistant Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Fox. “Together, they can be in touch with the art world. Just because you’re in business school, there’s no reason you should stop painting or stop writing. Your art is part of your life.”
Conversely, for art students, AB/BA is an opportunity to embrace the business world, which methodologies and practices that can seem intimidating, Fitzpatrick said.
“It’s been really fascinating to watch the business students in our group interact with the art students, and watch different ways of thinking come together,” said Fiona Fackler, a former president of AB/BA. “At meetings, we foster conversations and new friendships between students who may not normally interact on a daily basis.”
“It can be difficult to associate with people outside of your major, so it’s nice to step out of those boxes we build, to see people a little differently, or try to get to know people more deeply over shared interests.”