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Utilities closing analytics skills gap with SAS grant

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Utilities lack a strong pipeline of data scientists to tackle tough industry-business concerns. SAS has stepped up with a research and software grant, including energy forecasting technologies, to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Energy Production Infrastructure Center (EPIC). Multidisciplinary engineering coursework combined with practical data applications are expected to attract new students to the field.

“Utilities face a massive business transformation toward digital technologies with increased analytic requirements. On the other hand utilities also claim one of the highest average professional-employee age of any industry,” says Johan Enslin, EPIC Director. “Their looming retirement threatens a loss of valuable knowledge. To address the talent gap, SAS announced the EPIC grant. Paired with SAS Analytics U, its broad higher-education initiative, this demonstrates the company’s strong commitment to the energy sector and STEM education.”

In PwC’s 2013 U.S. CEO Survey, 54 percent of all global CEOs said that skills availability is a potential threat to business growth. In power and utilities, those numbers are likely higher.

Located on the Charlotte Research Institute Campus, EPIC aims to enhance the technical and business workforce for the global energy industry. SAS joins Duke Energy, AREVA Inc. and Siemens Energy in funding EPIC programs. The SAS grant will be devoted to the Energy Analytics Research Laboratory led by Tao Hong, graduate program director and EPIC assistant professor at UNC Charlotte, to support education, research and development in advanced analytics applications for utilities as well as oil and gas.

“The new SAS grant will offer our students invaluable hands-on experience with the analytics software that hundreds of energy companies use for operations and planning,” Hong says. “They can go to employment interviews and their first days of work with added confidence from that experience with state-of-the-art technology.”

Beginning August 2014, EPIC courses will use SAS software to introduce descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics and their applications in energy forecasting, demand response analytics, outage management, energy trading and risk management.

 

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