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SAS Global Forum 2008 - Student Forum and Reception

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Summary of Discussion

We were pleased to have about 33 students and professors at the forum. Ken Koonce from the Executive Board partnered with Elizabeth Ceranowski from the SAS Education practice to facilitate the discussion. After a few brief opening remarks about the student ambassador program, the student video camera project, and annoucements about some upcoming conference sessions of value to the students, we opened with our questions. Following are the questions and the answers we got from those in attendance.

  1. Why did you come to SAS Global Forum?
    Most students came for the opportunity to network, learn, and look for jobs. They were interested in learning what people do with SAS in their jobs. Some came because friends had previously attended and gave good reviews. One came representing the new Masters of Science and Analytics program at NC State University, a new venture between the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at NCSU and SAS. The first masters degrees will be awarded this May.
  2. Is this your first time at SAS Global Forum? What were some of the obstacles you encountered that stood in the way of coming?
    One international student knew nothing about SAS Global Forum, but a friend had participated the year before and he wanted the experience. Another's advisor suggested he submit a paper; that it would be good for his career. The student was a PhD candidate and had not heard about SAS Global Forum. Another didn't know about SAS until graduate school. Yet another was a sociologist who had shied away from complex statistics. His post-doc appointment at UNC-Shool of Public Health caused him to use SAS extensively. He came to the conference to discover that there "is room for" non-statisticians at the meeting. He was surprised at how useful things are to non-statisticians. He commented that students get paid little, but have the time to be innovative. I think he was suggesting that students could be leveraged as a valuable resource.
  3. What would make SAS Global Forum more appealing?
    Have it in my hometown. Thanks for it being cheaper for students. A Polish studnet suggested that SAS Global Forum should provide a mechanism for fostering future cooperation among students, who all use SAS and are ambitious. One student had been a SAS user for 10 years and had returned to get a PhD in a school that didn't use SAS. Wants to find a way to use SAS at her college easily. She and some of her colleagues hate SPSS.
  4. Would a networking opportunity at SAS Global Forum among students be valuable? What are some networking opportunities that you can think of?
    BOF sessions; is a good place to pair up with other students; even some who don't come to SAS Global Forum; wants to find other students to pair up with; find it difficulat to network with seasoned professionals; would like the conference to have a job fair with companies who hire SAS professionals to talk about what they are looking for in the way of SAS skills; someone's favorite pick-up line is "What's your favorite proc?" the people in the room today can be your network and it will grow; the demo area is a good place; one wanted to know how to connect after the meeting/ again attendees were reminded of; there is also a SAS student network with newsletters which partners with for posting resumes.
  5. What are majors?
    Mostly stat.
  6. What are degrees?
    11 bachelors; 7 masters, mostly PhDs, 2 post-doc.
  7. What do you see as a way for the SAS Ambassador program to help students?
    Does SAS have a way to giave ideas to students for them to use for their dissertationss or other research? One school required that students in an operations managment class watch the 60 minutes and Oprah segments. Was there something more up-to-date? Suggested that there be a session for newbies to put a paper together; regional/local users group meetings are a great place to start presenting, as they are less intimidating; teachers encourage students to attend other student presentations; often leave questions that no one has time to do anything with; maybe students could use these ideas for research; posters is a good way to start giving presenattion; it was suggested that students volunteer for the book drive; someone suggested that the web site be put on the sticker that is inserted into each book collected or purchased as part of the book drive.
  8. One attendee asked how to write a paper?
    There is a template on the web site and a presentation on giving a presentation. One student told another that Markoff analysis could be done with SAS by translating R to SAS. Another wanted a paper template that didn't use MS word. Some think that SAs is for statisticians. To get more people to the conference, there needs to be better PR that this is not true. One support person at a college in Austin, makes copies of the Proceedings to give to all her students. Someone suggested afterwards that if there are leftover CDs, we might want to give them to universities. Some said that they were intimidated about coming to SAS Global Forum by the aspect (and perception) that all attendees are experts in all areas of SAS.
  9. Other comments.
    One student commented that they had searched through papers and found many topics of interest to him. Someone from SAs should come to Business School in Austin (didn't catch its name) along with other industries to participate in a job fair. More discussion about connecting former ambassadors.
  10. Does anyone have a regional users group at hes/her university?
    Texas Tech, China university (very small, not many SAS users); Southwestern University of Economics.
    One student mentioned an annual academic day at the SAS Office in Belgium.

--Kathy 16:54, 17 March 2008 (EDT)

Notes from Gerry Hobbs:

Notes from the “Student” session on Sunday 3/16/8

First, the number of people in the room at the beginning of the session was in the mid-to-upper 20’s and increased to a maximum of about 43 by the end. At one point I counted 21 apparent students. The number grew after that but I never was sure of whether certain attendees were students or not.

Why did they come? My reading was that the answer was jobs – period! When Ken asked the question that was the first answer. When he asked, “what else?”, the response seemed to me to be half-hearted The SGUG challenge will be to come up with something that gives students an opportunity to job hunt but doesn’t put off the companies who send their employees to SGF. I know you had some ideas on that.

What are the obstacles? Don’t know about it. Cost. I didn’t hear it but time away from class has to be an issue. Intimidation – SGF is a place for experts. SAS clearly tried to help with costs in supporting 36 students. SGUG has fairly cheap registration fees for students already. I think the “don’t know about it” issue gets back to SAS penetration into college/university curricula. Students will know about SGF if their professors tell them about it. I think that that is more of a SAS issue than a SGUG issue. SGUG could help on the intimidation issue perhaps by emphasizing tutorials in our advertising (SAS does most of that, right?) and by offering pre/post SGF classes at a reduced cost. If we already do that I am not aware of it.

Who was there? In your EB report I think you said there were 11 undergraduates. I thought there was only one (as we faced them he was on the left end of the group of UTSA students - over near Ken). In any event as I counted, the attendees were mostly graduate students and the number of Ph. D. students was larger than any other group. Math & Stat majors predominated with (I think) only 2 CS majors. With a few exceptions the schools represented were “local”. The actionable part of all that is that next year we will be near a lot more schools than we were this year so the local pool of students will be much bigger. Some of what I heard suggests that SAS is still perceived by the students as a “Stat” package. That is interesting, given the very different reality of the situation. Advertising that is targeted to the education sector might play up the IT aspect of the conference. If we want to go beyond the geeks, it seems to me that we might also target the quantitative schools or departments in stronger Business colleges and, of course, that that might play to SI’s longer range goals viz attracting CxO’s to the conference. I think we should be able to organize and advertise some sort of presentation by the new NC State “business data analysis” program (I have no idea what it is really called). That would give a nice student centered activity.

Student participation? Intimidation again. The use of posters as an alternative to platform presentations was discussed. I think that is a good idea. Maybe we should advertise for “Student Posters” explicitly. We wouldn’t have to have a separate display area but the simple fact that we ask for them might encourage students to participate. – I didn’t perceive much knowledge of the Wiki on the part of the students. I think Elizabeth Cernowski said she had created a student page but I haven’t confirmed it. If we, or Elizabeth, can come up with something that interests students it costs us nothing to put in on the website.


The SAS Global Users Group Executive Board invites you to attend a forum and reception for student attendees at SAS Global Forum 2008.

The Executive Board wants the SAS Global Forum, our international meeting of SAS users, to be student-friendly. We want to hear from you about ways to engage more student attendees and improve their experience at the annual meeting. We hope you will share your reasons for coming to this year's meeting and give us ideas about how we can increase the chances of you being a regular attendee.

The reception, with light refreshments, will be at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in Room 207 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 16.

Please come. We look forward to meeting and hearing from you in San Antonio.


If you have any questions, that you would like to have addressed, please post them below. Add # before your question.

  1. Why do you come to SAS Global Forum?
  2. What are the obstacles to your coming to SAS Global Forum?
  3. What would make SAS Global Forum even more appealing for students?
  4. Would a networking opportunity with other students at SAS Global Forum be valuable?
  5. Do you take advantage of pre and post conference trainings? Topics of interest we could add?
  6. How did you hear about SAS Global Forum?
  7. Do you know if any of your colleagues wanted to attend the SAS Global Forum but couldn't? If so, do you know why they did not attend?
  8. How does the forum or SAS itself support the work of PhD students?
  9. Can the student SAS ambassador be linked together to form a PhD student group in benefiting the SAS expert or SAS software?

CLICK HERE for Questions and Notes from SAS Global Forum 2009 - Student Forum and Reception