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.”
A return to school, homework assignments, and all-nighters has never looked as good as it does for students enrolled in the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (Executive DBA) program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Considered among the top Executive DBA programs in the world, Fox’s program annually gathers an intimate cohort of 25 business professionals — each with an average of 20 years of industry experience and at least one graduate degree — in a rigorous three-year, part-time doctoral program designed to teach the tools of applied research, enabling students to solve complex business problems and create new knowledge.
“It’s rewarding to see these senior executives excited to be students again,” said Dr. Steven Casper, Assistant Professor of Finance at the Fox School, and the Executive Director of the Executive DBA program.
The Executive DBA will enter its third year this fall, welcoming back its inaugural cohort for its final year in the program. The program’s students originate from across the United States and from four other countries worldwide.
The program features six on-site residencies at The HUB at Commerce Square, in Center City Philadelphia. These learning-intensive weekends provide face time between students, professors, and mentors to help guide the students throughout the program and in preparation for their research projects and dissertations.
“They have to be self-starters,” Casper said, describing the ideal Executive DBA student. “Our students have to be incredibly organized and driven, as they are busy executives and must also complete an average of 12 to 15 hours of homework per week for the program.”
In a short span of time, Fox’s Executive DBA program has enjoyed great success. Temple University has been selected to host the Executive DBA Council’s annual International Engaged Management Scholarship Conference in 2018. It will follow conferences in Paris in 2016 and Tampa, Fla., in 2017. Casper noted that hosting the conference presents an exclusive opportunity to highlight Fox’s program, and the achievements of its students.
“Going to the DBA conferences is very beneficial, as it lets us see where other students are in comparison to our students, and share best practices with other programs,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to be part of the DBA community through idea exchanges and collaboration.”
Furthering its reach, the Fox Executive DBA is also looking to grow its international presence by expanding to China through a partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing. The program will equip students at Tsinghua’s People’s Bank of China School of Finance with the same curriculum that drives the Fox Executive DBA, with the program led by faculty from the Fox School and Tsinghua.
“Tsinghua is excited to partner with Temple because we’ve developed one of the world’s leading Executive DBA programs,” Casper said.
Engaging high school students to spur urban civic start-ups and community involvement
Two Philadelphia high school students temporarily put their summer plans on hold for a unique afternoon activity: The students, from Temple University’s Urban Apps & Maps Studios, delivered a technology prototype presentation to a leading executive from Samsung.
Sharing conference-room space with Young-jun Kim, Senior Vice President of Design of Samsung Electronics and President of Samsung’s Art and Design Institute, the students unveiled Samsung Self, a platform they developed to incentivize youth to have an active lifestyle and reduce the health risks associated with obesity. A user’s every movement is tracked, including staircase climbing, walking, watching movies in front of a TV, and listening to music. Self connects various aspects of a busy youth’s life that can affect their health through digital rewards that could be applied to music downloads, for example.
“We see our area’s high school students as cultural researchers who are experts in tomorrow’s high-tech culture,” said Dr. Youngjin Yoo, Harry A. Cochran Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School of Business, and founder of Temple’s Apps & Maps Studios.
The Samsung presentation serves as just one example of the impact forged by Urban Apps & Maps Studios, a Temple university-wide, interdisciplinary program. Each year, Apps & Maps connects Philadelphia high school students with Temple faculty and graduate student mentors to encourage, develop, and found start-ups to transform urban challenges into products and services. To date, thousands of students, hundreds of mentors and dozens of faculty have contributed to the Apps & Maps Building Information Technology Skills (BITS) six-week summer program, according to Dr. Michele Masucci, BITS Director and Temple University Vice President for Research Administration.
“Before Apps & Maps was founded, I had come to the conclusion that we’d need to create an urban entrepreneurship movement, so young men and women can use the technology around them to create solutions, make a difference, and aspire to become lifestyle entrepreneurs,” Yoo said. “Apps & Maps supports that movement.”
Apps & Maps received initial funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, in the form of a $500,000, five-year grant in 2011. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation also funds the Apps & Maps Studios program to bridge students and faculty members across Temple University. Over the last three years alone, Apps & Maps has trained more than 450 local high school students and over 150 Temple students who worked with faculty members from Temple’s College of Engineering, Katz School of Medicine, and the Fox School, in conjunction with the departments of English, Computer and Information Science, Biology, and Geography and Urban Studies.
In this year’s BITS program, the high school students’ projects included: analyzing the impacts of and suggesting improvements for a proposed, elevated rail park in Philadelphia’s post-industrial neighborhoods; mobile apps, to connect food-truck vendors with consumers for more-efficient transactions, and to address urban littering; and mapping the customer experience of Pennsylvania Ballet attendees.
Over the summer, Cameron Javon Scott and his 11 teammates visited Comcast and met with Android Studio developers. Armed with knowledge and confidence, the team, under the supervision of Dr. Karl Morris, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Temple’s College of Science and Technology, developed the prototype for a mobile application called Foodocracy, which would bridge the gap between food-truck owners and consumers.
“Before I did this, I had no coding experience,” said Scott, a 15-year-old sophomore from Harriton High School in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “I joined this program and I knew what I might want to do for a career, but didn’t know how to get there. This program gave me knowledge and direction. I’m here because they saw my potential.”
Jamik Ligon lined up five summer programs in which to participate, including a video-game design program at his school, Philadelphia’s Simon Gratz High School, and a biomedical engineering program in Drexel University’s nanoscience department.
“I was willing to drop all of that for Apps & Maps,” said Ligon, an 18-year-old senior. “That’s what this (program) means to me.”