SAS, Clemson University Team for Data Science Innovation
March 28, 2022
students and faculty will have access to powerful data science and
analytics software from SAS thanks to a new, $3.3 million donation to
support teaching and academic research. Extending a 2017 partnership,
the latest gift from SAS includes access to SAS Viya, the company's
flagship artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and data
"Clemson's partnership with SAS has greatly benefitted our faculty,
staff and students, and I am grateful for this gift that will continue
to provide them with the best software and hands-on experience," said
Clemson President James P. Clements.
SAS Viya enables users to transform raw data into powerful insights.
These insights will allow Clemson researchers to make sense of large
data sets and explore various critical topics. Researchers intend to
study important areas such as racial inequities in education, wildlife
disease, addiction, agriculture and the human genome. SAS will also
provide teaching materials and on-site training for faculty and staff to
help them integrate SAS into coursework and research.
"Clemson's students, faculty and researchers will be able to use the
latest industry-leading SAS AI and advanced analytics software to learn
new skills and generate new breakthroughs," said SAS CEO Jim Goodnight.
Expanding an innovative partnership
Since 2017, Clemson's Watt Family Innovation Center has served as the
primary hub for SAS training, seminars and technical support. With this
latest gift, the Watt Center aims to partner with Clemson Computing and
Information Technology to educate users on SAS capabilities, assist with
program onboarding and oversee SAS analytics and data science
certification administration. SAS is also available through the
university's Palmetto Cluster supercomputer, drastically reducing
The SAS partnership with Clemson creates a competitive edge for students
with a knowledge of SAS Viya and other analytics skills. Last year, more
than 143,000 job postings listed SAS as a desired skill, according to
Emsi Burning Glass, an aggregator of labor market data. Clemson
integrates SAS into courses to better prepare students for careers in
health care, financial services, the public sector and more.
"By integrating SAS into coursework, we're helping strengthen literacy
in data science," says Cynthia Young, founding dean of the College of
Science. "Our students become more competitive, our alumni are more
successful, and our state and nation are getting more of a workforce
that understands SAS and is better prepared to advance many industries
as they harness the power of data."
Analyzing huge datasets to improve health care quality
Brian Witrick, a fifth-year PhD student, entered Clemson's applied
health research and evaluation program to better understand analytics.
However, he didn't expect this knowledge to create a statewide impact on
disparities in health care.
Along with his advisor, Witrick uses SAS to analyze a registry of people
with peripheral artery disease to determine disparities in care.
Peripheral artery disease can be very painful and, in some cases, lead
to amputations. Witrick and his team use SAS to examine disparities in
care across South Carolina.
practical implications of using SAS on this project are pretty amazing,"
says Witrick. "Utilizing SAS allows us to identify the problem and then
create potential solutions and interventions."
Previously, the team has struggled with the enormity of data in their
registry, including hundreds of thousands of observations. With SAS,
Clemson has reduced data processing time by 82%. A processing job that
used to last seven days now takes only 30 hours.
As Witrick thinks about the next steps after receiving his doctorate, he
knows his work with SAS is far from over. "SAS is helping eliminate
barriers in health care, but I think this gift helps eliminate barriers
when it comes to access to technology," he says. "As much time as I've
had working with SAS, it's nice to know that there's so much more that I
could do with it. Dare I say the sky is the limit."
Building brighter futures through education
From preschool to adult learners, SAS has initiatives to support
learners at all stages. Through free software, education partnerships
and philanthropy, SAS promotes early learning and literacy, builds
analytics and STEM skills and fosters diversity in a technology-driven
The recently launched SAS Skill Builder for Students is a free global
program available to higher education students to learn SAS skills, get
certified and find a job. In addition, more than 400 higher education
institutions around the world integrate SAS into coursework and research
efforts through the Academic Specialization program.