New institute at Benedictine challenges students to solve local business problems

March 31, 2015

Lisle, Illinois ~ An institute designed to provide students with the opportunity to help local businesses find solutions to a variety of real-world problems has sprung from Benedictine University’s pioneering programs in the field of business analytics.

The Institute for Business Analytics and Visualization – developed by faculty members Deb Cernauskas, Ph.D., and Nona Jones, Ph.D. – will serve as a venue for the exchange of ideas on using data analysis and predictive modeling in decision-making and employing graphics and technology to better understand abstract business data.

“It’s a way for us to connect with the local community, and it allows us to use our expertise to help local businesses while engaging our students,” Cernauskas said. “It’s also a way for us to highlight all of the cutting-edge technologies we are introducing into our curriculum.”

The institute will advance its mission through experiential learning projects in which three to five students can earn college credit by working to solve problems faced by participating organizations. Current projects include developing ideas for new products for ConAgra Foodservice and providing digital marketing and branding support for the National Tiger Sanctuary.

Other projects are currently being developed with Downers Grove based K-9 Swim & Trim, a business that promotes dog health and wellness; The Camelot Company, a logistics/freight-forwarding business in Schiller Park; and the Lisle Lanes bowling alley.

All projects will include ongoing meetings between students and company representatives to facilitate the exchange of information and problem-solving. Each student team is required to prepare a “Statement of Work” to define the scope of the project and delineate the deliverables that will be produced for the client.

The institute has also received grants that substantially increase the resources available to students as they work on creating digital advertising campaigns for clients.

“We wanted to add to our efforts by giving students real-world experiences that provide them an edge in a very competitive employment environment,” Jones said. “The institute is also another differentiator for Benedictine, as we are teaching students things that they cannot learn from a textbook.”

Jack Minogue, D.Min., acting dean of the College of Business, said the new institute is a byproduct of the abundance of information and tracking tools available today, and an increased demand for interpreting data and applying it in ways that positively impacts the bottom line of virtually every industry.

“Given the huge investment corporations have made in collecting, analyzing and visualizing data, it is essential the education we provide our students will equip them with the critical-thinking skills required for this type of environment,” Minogue said.

In addition to experiential learning, the institute will also host a speaker series and offer short courses and seminars, applied research, visualization labs, and summer camps for high school students where they can engage in hands-on business projects.

Prospective students can learn more about Benedictine University at Spring Open House from 12:00-4:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 12, at the Krasa Student Center.

Students can meet with faculty, talk to current students, discuss tuition and scholarships with financial aid representatives, tour campus and learn for themselves why Forbes magazine named Benedictine one of “America’s Top Colleges” four years in a row.

For more information, please contact Admissions at (630) 829-6300 or admissions@ben.edu, or visit ben.edu/admissions.

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Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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