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Tag: MATTERS

Brandeis GPS students continue collaboration on statewide MATTERS data project

According to the State Technology and Science Index, Massachusetts is the most high-tech state, with top tier-institutions for higher education producing a highly skilled workforce and innovation economy.

What is MATTERS?

Logo for the MATTERS projectMATTERS™ is the Massachusetts’ Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System.  MATTERS was created to measure the strength of the technological environment in Massachusetts and compare it to other states. It was developed by faculty and students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) under the guidance of the Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC) to compare Massachusetts’ competitive position to it’s 15 peer technology states.

The MATTERS peer states include the 10 “Leading Technology States” from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s annual Innovation Index and the top 5 states in the Milken Institute’s State Tech and Science Index. The MATTERS performance index ranks each state along talent, tax (financial climate), cost of doing business, and quality of life by using a weighted average of key metrics in each data category. The goal is to make Massachusetts the most desirable state to grow a high technology business by using the data from the MATTERS™ project to drive public policy that will enhance the state’s strengths and draw in businesses.

How is Brandeis GPS Involved?

Starting in January 2016, Stephen Gentile, former chair of the MS in Strategic Analytics and a current GPS instructor, created a program for GPS  students to curate MATTERS data. The course is now taught by Travis Dawry, who took over as instructor in fall 2016. In each iteration of the course, students are selected based on a variety of factors including their academic performance, professional experience, and leadership abilities.

The role of the GPS team includes:

  • Developing, documenting, and receiving approval for the scope of work from MHTC project sponsors
  • Evaluating, analyzing, and transmitting MATTERS data from multiple sources
  • Proposing and executing extension projects to enhance MATTERS analytics capabilities
  • Effectively communicating the project’s status, issues, risks, and results to MATTERS stakeholders
  • Creating or enhancing the methodology to maintain the MATTERS system and developing a proposed work plan for the next offering of the course

Since the launch of the program, Brandeis GPS students have:

  • Analyzed the current MATTERS state indices and suggested changes to the metrics and weighting across all four of MATTERS’ index categories
  • Compared Massachusetts infrastructure spending to that of its peer states
  • Evaluated traffic to the MATTERS website itself using Google Analytics data

There is now a system in place for data versioning and issue tracking, via a private GitHub repository, so the Brandeis GPS team is able to coordinate with the MHTC and WPI points of contact asynchronously throughout the semester.

How can you participate?

The Brandeis GPS course that works with MATTERS data, Special Topics in Strategic Analytics, will be taught during our Fall 2 session starting in October. It is open to students who are matriculated in our 100% online MS in Strategic Analytics program, which aims to help students master the technical and strategic skills necessary to transform data analysis into insightful, data-backed stories to influence key decision makers. The 30-credit part-time, flexible program is designed with equal focus in both the art and science of data in its seven required courses and three electives. After graduating from the program, students should be able to identify patterns and trends within big data, interpret and communicate results to stakeholders of various levels, and leverage data to inform strategic decisions. Samples of our Strategic Analytics courses include Business Intelligence, Analytics and Strategic Decision MakingFoundations of Data Science and Analytics, and Data Quality and Governance.

How do you apply to Brandeis GPS?

If you’re interested in applying to the MS in Strategic Analytics, we offer rolling admission, so you can apply and be accepted at any time. However, there are recommended deadlines if you are seeking admission for a specific term. You should submit your application by Wednesday, September 12 for Fall 2 admission with courses starting in October. Those interested in the program who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still take up to two online courses without officially enrolling. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. Course registration is open now for our Fall 2 classes starting in October. Learn more about our MS in Strategic Analytics, and preview our Strategic Analytics courses here. You can also contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis GPS students play key role in a new statewide data initiative

By Stephen Gentile

With a vast network of start-ups and a haven of biotech and pharma companies, and dozens of institutions of higher learning it is no secret that Massachusetts is one of the most tech-advanced states in the country. According to Gov. Charlie Baker, we now must leverage the state’s technology and economic progress and increase its competitiveness.

Brandeis GPS is partnering with the Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC) in support of this cause. A coalition of pro-growth advocates is developing and launching a unique online resource that measures how the state ranks nationally among other states.

Why MATTERS matters

The new system, MATTERSTM (Massachusetts’ Technology, Talent, and Economic Reporting System), was developed by students and faculty from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), with assistance and guidance from an Advisory Board formed by MHTC. MATTERS creates profiles of each of the 50 states based on key parameters related to talent, tax, business climate and quality of life. It then compiles national rankings data and dozens of cost, economic and talent metrics to see how Massachusetts ranks in comparison to other states.

The data MATTERS generates helps Massachusetts private and public sectors identify and drive legislation that maximizes the state’s strengths (source).

MA state profile. Source: http://matters.mhtc.org

MATTERS MA state profile (source: http://matters.mhtc.org)

How Brandeis GPS fits in

In January 2016, as program chair of the Strategic Analytics program, I led a team of GPS students in a project to research, cleanse, and load MATTERS data. Each academic term, we will continue this process by building a MATTERS team, selecting participating students based on their previous academic performance in the program, professional experience, and leadership abilities. The GPS data curators conduct meetings with MHTC, WPI, and other stakeholders; define a scope of work for the course, and culminate their work on the project with a final proposal that outlines next steps and possible deliverables for the next GPS research team. The MATTERS team reviews and approves each proposal before the next term begins.

The inaugural GPS team spearheaded the following milestones:

  • Evaluating and taking inventory of all data sources
  • Compiling and transmitting updated data from all relevant sources; the WPI team used this data to test MATTERS version 2.0, which MHTC announced this spring.
  • Creating and documenting the methodology to maintain MATTERS data, including on-going processes, workflow among stakeholders, and data update schedules

Looking ahead

Our work has been essential in establishing processes and procedures that ensure MATTERS is working with high-quality data, but there is still much to do. Data curation goes beyond organizing and cleansing data — it can also set up a construct for the broader user community to access quality data in a reproducible manner, which guarantees its usefulness for future research. Additionally, data curation will facilitate a better collaboration between organizations as the source data will be improved “on the edge” before it enters the MATTERS clearinghouse.

Detailed plans for the summer 2016 MATTERS course are now underway, as we look to re-evaluate all data sources, document our methodology, and enhance the workflows and collaboration with WPI and the MHTC teams.

Stephen Gentile serves as Director, Project Management Office at Babson Capital Management LLC. He is also the chair of the Strategic Analytics program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies and teachers courses in their Strategic Analytics and Project and Program Management programs.

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