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Major Data Reach

The University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business turns to the community to complete a transformational investment in data analytics education.
Author: Jesse Ziter
2 years ago
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Without intending to, we’ve all completed a crash course in data over the past two years.

If it wasn’t clear before, recent events have demonstrated how calculating, communicating, and keeping track of the relevant numbers—be they case counts or supply chain logistics—gives us all a fighting chance to make informed, responsible decisions in a challenging, changing world that often resists easy answers.

Because responsible university educations always prepare students to grapple with critical conversations far beyond campus, the Odette School of Business, the University of Windsor’s business faculty, last year launched a $700,000 philanthropic campaign to transform its multipurpose computer workroom into a world-class Data Analytics Teaching Lab. At press time, Odette is about $100,000 in private donor money away from its target. The total campaign will see the school raise $1.1 million, including $370,000 in internal University of Windsor funding.

In business, “data analytics” is a broad field with implications for diverse projects including, database analysis, supply chain management, marketing, finance, cyber security, and countless other processes and practices. Business doesn’t run on vibes: successful companies of all sizes need to understand and analyze increasingly sophisticated, complex data quickly and comprehensively to remain viable.

According to Odette leadership, the new lab will meaningfully increase Windsor’s ability to recruit high-achieving applicants who might otherwise have chosen to study at other leading Ontario universities. The new facility, which will be accessible by all Odette students, will ensure graduates enter the workforce equipped with game-changing knowledge of tools and techniques associated with advanced analytic practices.

“Our vision was to create a lab that is among the best in all Canada,” says Odette Dean Dr. Mitchell Fields. “Data Analytics has become an important driver for all programs at the graduate and undergraduate level at the Odette School of Business. As the use and availability of data explodes, business students require the skills to analyze and understand large data sets.”

Critically, the E. & G. Odette Foundation and P & L Odette Charitable Foundation have committed to a substantial endorsement of the project, promising to match donations to the fundraising campaign up to $350,000.

The Odette School of Business and the building housing it are named afterEdmond and Louis Odette, Tilbury-born brothers who rose to prominence in the Toronto construction world before launching major multigenerational philanthropic initiatives. Their respective families have been long-time supporters of the Odette School of Business and its students.

The fundraising push allows Odette to explore emerging techniques and methodologies, stretching its potential beyond what can be funded through government subsidies and tuition alone. So far, the University of Windsor Alumni Association has made a significant contribution, as have many individual Odette alumni.

Odette School of Business Data Analytics Lab

According to Odette Major Gift Officer Kelly Gosselin, who oversees philanthropy and engagement for the business school, data analytics are increasingly integral to all fields of business, so the facility will have exciting implications for marketing, finance, and accounting students alike.

As of this semester, principal construction is complete, and select groups of Odette students are beginning to trial the new space. The lab is scheduled to open for full use in May, a few months ahead of a grand opening in the fall.

The overhaul has involved significant structural changes to the physical lab space and its underlying IT infrastructure. The facility now houses 50 high-end workstations with lightning-quick connectivity and high-end hardware under their hoods. Each terminal is pre-loaded with industry-leading professional software, and the room can accommodate advanced teaching technologies.

Fundraising dollars are contributing to everything from lighting and window treatments to state-of-the-art projectors, professional software licenses, and a sustainability fund for ongoing maintenance.

The new Data Analytics Teaching Laboratory is used primarily for curriculum-based classroom learning, but it also proves useful for co-curricular activities like student-run club events, formal competitions, and various networking and mentoring events interfacing with the real business world.

For students like Tapas Modi, a brighter future is already beginning to take shape.

“The new Data Analytics lab is seamless,” says Modi, a third-year undergraduate business major at Odette. “With the latest technology, gizmos, and ergonomic features, it can encourage any student to excel in their labs.”

Interested in giving? To learn more about how to contribute, consult the Support Odette website (uwindsor.ca/business/306/support-odette) or contact Kelly Gosselin directly at (519) 253-3000 ext. 3137 or [email protected].

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