Driven by Data
As the 2016 presidential election becomes nail-bitingly close, polls and poll results are in the news and conversations wherever we turn.
Recent alumnus Sam Beech '16 has been adding his voice and his own mix of numbers to the fray through his website, Beech Analytics, as a sideline to his graduate work in finance and accounting. The idea for the site originated during his senior year at Denison, and uses over a thousand state polls to predict the chances that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have at winning the presidency.
Beech's method of collecting data involves a good deal of homework, researching the best polling sources and watching them for updated releases of their findings.
"[Denison] taught me how to communicate my knowledge, and bring my work to life."
Beech's passion for the field was regrettably just ahead of Denison's formal Data Analytics major, which was established immediately after his graduation, but the fundamentals have been offered at Denison for a long time. Students have applied data analysis to any number of disciplines for many years, using statistical modeling principles especially in the sciences and social sciences.
Beech's major was in economics but he's always liked politics too. "I was raised in a family that was always interested in politics," he says, "so I got into it from a really young age ... I took political science courses at Denison, and I do love the 'horse-race' sporting aspect of politics."
By taking mathematics and statistics courses as well, Sam learned how to use software for data analysis. But he learned beyond that as well. As he puts it, “Of course Denison taught me some of the math and analytical skills I need, but it also taught me how to communicate my knowledge, and bring my work to life.”
Sam is thrilled to see Denison add the pragmatic study of Data Analytics to its curriculum. Since his graduation, he’s realized how crucial it is, stating, “I think data analytics arguably provides the most opportunity for employment of any field, because it is so important in so many different types of industries. From the information I've gathered about data analytics, the demand for it far exceeds the supply. Firms are relying more and more on data analysis as a means of improving their business.”