Analytics U

Analytics U Introduces High School Students to Endless Potential of Data

Friday, August 13, 2021

When a group of 15 Twin Cities high school students arrived at the Mall of America earlier this week, they weren’t there to hang out and shop. Instead, the students were gathering data on how time of day affected the popularity of rides in the mall’s amusement park.

It was all part of an immersive educational experience in the Carlson School’s Analytics U program. This new, free week-long pathway program for underrepresented high school students introduces students, such as Betzabe Solano, to how data science plays a critical role in solving real-world problems and impacts everyday lives.

Solano, a rising senior at Apple Valley High School, has new interest in the topic to combine with her plans to major in marketing in college.

“I really enjoyed looking at the data and how things work behind the scenes,” Solano says of the experience. “It’s not just looking at Target and seeing people buy things, it’s understanding why they are buying, how they are buying, and how that affects the quantity of products they get.”

Analytics U

The program began August 9 and ends today, August 13. It included a campus tour, a strengths finder exercise, professional development opportunities, connections and networking with industry professionals from Target, Land O’ Lakes, and others, as well as the Mall of America visit. Working in teams, students also tackled a real data project, presenting their findings today.

The curriculum throughout the program was designed by Carlson School professors, along with staff members from the Carlson Analytics Lab, who led the sessions. 

Geida Cleveland, Analytics U program coordinator, says she has not seen a similar type of program in the area. 

“It's important for the Carlson School to be involved and engaged in the community and to share its access to educational resources and opportunities,” Cleveland, who serves as the assistant director of diversity and inclusion for the Carlson School’s Undergraduate Program, says. 

Analytics U is the latest of several new programs offered by the program to help students of color gain more experience with business, including the Emerging Leaders of Color program, which launched in 2019. 

“It's critical to increase the identities represented in the field to reflect what our communities look like based on demographics,” Cleveland says. “Analytics and data science are at the forefront of business and many organizations and companies are investing in analytics teams to create more informed business decisions. It's important that those at the table working with the data and making those decisions represent all identities. We want to start preparing students early and exposing them to analytics as a possible career opportunity.”

Analytics U organizers say they plan to make this an annual event.