News at Smith

Smith Undergrads Get Hands-On Data Analytics Experience with Gartner

Feb 26, 2018
Experiential / Reality-based Learning


On Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, four undergraduates from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business presented their months-long research findings exploring gender differences in analytics and data science programs compared with other technical disciplines such as engineering and computer science.

The students presented their findings to Rita Sallam, a research vice president at Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading research and advisory company. Sallam is a member of Gartner's Business Analytics and Data Science team. Several months ago, she and Zeinab Karake, a clinical professor in the decision, operations and information technologies (DOIT) department, initiated a discussion about a joint research venture between Gartner and Smith, culminating in a collaboration agreement between the two parties. Gartner worked with the UMD students to design the survey, attract student respondents and analyze the results. Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Victor Mullins was the main administrative sponsor of the agreement and Professors Karake and Pamela Armstrong, clinical associate professor, supervised the student’s work.

“It took me and Dean Mullins about six months to get this project off the ground. This is a first for Gartner: the first time for Gartner to collaborate with undergraduate students in doing research,” said Karake. She complimented the four students -- Derek Xiao, Briana Cobell, Hanna Guevara, and Angelina Liubimova -- by adding, “They did a superb job and did not require more than logistical supervision.”

The students’ final presentation provided actionable key findings that will be included in upcoming Gartner research and, as Karake stated, “The insights gained will be critical for data and analytics leaders who must attract more female data scientists to fill talent gaps.”

Karake emphasized the relevance of the student’s research. She stated that “Organizations are struggling to find technical and data science talent, particularly as use of technology combined with data for all aspects of business and innovation are becoming critical factors that determine a company’s success or failure in a digitally transforming world. Attracting diverse talent will be a necessary part of any strategy for addressing data and analytics skills gaps.”

“The students uncovered surprising insights that will help Gartner’s data and analytics leaders-clients improve their ability to attract and retain scarce analytics and data science talent,” added Sallam.

Also attending the presentation in the conference room of the Smith Undergraduate Program Office in Van Munching Hall was Brian Horick, assistant dean of the undergraduate program. He added, “The real-world data analytics experience that Gartner provided our students was exceptional, and this type of experiential learning project is a very important component of our undergraduate education at the Smith School. In addition, Rita Sallam did a wonderful job explaining all the work that goes on behind the scenes to clean the data and prepare it for analysis, and she also showed the team how their research was going to be used by Gartner. As a result, our students received a comprehensive hands-on data analytics experience.”

For more information about the Smith Undergraduate program, visit:

- Claudia Donnelly, Smith Undergraduate Program

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.