From Engineering to Analytics
By Delisha Hinton
Delisha Hinton and Joanne Zhang
As businesses look to make decisions, they turn to data to draw conclusions to solve problems. Not surprisingly, the brightest minds analyzing data are coming from NC State.
Last year, four Wilson College of Textiles textile engineering (TE) alums began the 10-month Master of Science in Analytics program at NC State’s Institute for Advanced Analytics which leads to amazing job opportunities. “Our textile engineering degree, especially our information systems concentration, is very well suited for an analytics career,” said Dr. Jeffrey A. Joines, department head of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science. “Most of my research and consulting has dealt with analyzing and making decisions using data — and that is only going to grow.”
According to Joines, Wilson College textile engineering students have been very successful gaining admission into the competitive analytics program at NC State. “The program typically receives more than 1,200 applicants for only 120 spots, and we have had at least one textile engineer alum in almost every cohort,” he said..
Each of the students had a different college experience that has led them to a career in analytics. For Liesl Miranda ‘19, taking Dr. Melissa Pasquinelli’s TE 110 class — an Introductory course in computer-based modeling and programming — in her first year confirmed that textile engineering was the right program.
“I felt confident in my choice of major,” Miranda said. “I loved the class and it influenced my decision to select the information systems concentration.”
“Dr. Joines’ classes on Lean Six Sigma and information system design were also key in allowing me to contribute to internships and grow my passion for data-driven improvement,” she added. Joines provides real data for students to analyze and manipulate in his classes, which helps prepare students for successful internships and careers in the data analysis field.
The program offers students many opportunities to develop their leadership and soft skills.
For example, alumna Jiin Son ‘19 was able to work as an undergraduate teaching assistant for a computer-based modeling programming class which increased her understanding of general logic in programming. Having a great faculty mentor really helped me plan my future career,” she noted.
Kyrsten Rudock ‘19 found her coding classes of TE 110 and TE 440 challenging while completing her textile engineering degree and her internship experience at Hanesbrand Inc. “After my analytics internship, my perspective took a turn when I saw how useful coding can be for finding the exciting actionable insights that I always want to uncover,” she said “Now in graduate school, coding is one of my favorite things! Not everyone at the Institute for Advanced Analytics has to be a big programmer, but it’s become a personal passion of mine to continue improving, despite how I felt about it years ago. It’s nice knowing that your interests can change once you experience how certain skills are applied in the workplace.”
Analytics is a necessity for businesses to operate and thrive by utilizing data management and quality, mathematical and statistical methods for data modeling, and techniques for visualizing data in support of making decisions. Textile engineering alumna, Shannon Tart ‘16, describes the 10-month master’s program as ” intensive, immersive and interactive.”
“It helps students develop multi-faceted skills needed to draw insights from complex data sets and to be able to communicate those insights effectively,” she said. “It also focuses on collaboration and teamwork to drive successful completion of coursework, homework, projects and the practicum.”
Even before they begin their graduate studies in the Analytics program, Wilson College textile engineer and textile technology (TT) students are prepared to be leaders and team players. The leadership development they receive at the beginning of the fall semester senior design class is further advanced in the analytics practicum project.
“Having those group leaders has led the Analytics program to recognize that our TE and TT students are very well prepared for their program,” Joines said.
As Tart describes it, the team-based practicum project gives” students “the opportunity to hone their skills by working on challenging problems with actual data shared from sponsoring organizations.” In her case, she worked with NC State Athletics to help drive strategic marketing practices and improve overall efficiency within ticketing.
Following graduation, Tart will be moving to Atlanta and begin working for The Home Depot as a senior analyst on its Decision Analytics team.
“My degree as a textile engineer prepared me in a multitude of ways not only for the Master’s of Science in Analytics program but also for the job search,” she explained. “The TE curriculum puts a heavy focus on being able to brainstorm to come up with creative yet strategic solutions to complex problems. This not only served me well in my coursework but also throughout my practicum project. Most of my interviews involved some sort of hands-on case study or situation in which we had to solve a problem so this background allowed me to think quickly and come up with interesting solutions to the problems I was presented.”
From textile engineering to analytics, Wilson College alumni continue to shape the textile industry and beyond.
Post Graduation Plans
Liesl Miranda ‘19 and ‘20
B.S. Textile Engineering, Information Systems
Minor: Industrial Engineering and Statistics
Lowe’s Home Improvement – Senior Analyst
Kyrsten Rudock ‘19 and ‘20
B.S. Textile Engineering, Product Engineering
DISH Network – Marketing Analytics Specialist
Jiin Son ‘19 and ‘20
B.S. Textile Engineering, Information System
Minor: Industrial Engineering
KeyBank – Model Risk Quant/Modeling Analyst
Shannon Tart ‘16 and ‘20
B.S. Textile Engineering, Product Engineering
Home Depot – Senior Analyst, Decision Analytics