Utilities closing analytics skills gap with SAS® software, research grant

SAS funds UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production Infrastructure Center offering hands-on analytics experience

Utilities lack a strong pipeline of data scientists to tackle tough industry-business concerns. Analytics leader SAS has stepped up with a research and software grant, including energy forecasting technologies, to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Energy Production Infrastructure Center (EPIC). Multidisciplinary engineering coursework combined with practical data applications are expected to attract new students to the field.

“Utilities face a massive business transformation toward digital technologies with increased analytic requirements. On the other hand utilities also claim one of the highest average professional-employee age of any industry,” said Johan Enslin, EPIC Director. “Their looming retirement threatens a loss of valuable knowledge. To address the talent gap, SAS announced the EPIC grant today. Paired with SAS Analytics U, its broad higher-education initiative, this demonstrates the company’s strong commitment to the energy sector and STEM education.”

In PwC’s 2013 US CEO Survey, 54 percent of all global CEOs said that skills availability is a potential threat to business growth. In power and utilities, those numbers are likely higher. We can anticipate a future in which a much wider range of available technologies, resource scarcities and demographic shifts will affect the industry.

Located on the Charlotte Research Institute Campus, EPIC aims to enhance the technical and business workforce for the global energy industry. SAS joins Duke Energy, AREVA Inc. and Siemens Energy in funding EPIC programs. The SAS grant will be devoted to the Energy Analytics Research Laboratory led by Tao Hong, Graduate Program Director and EPIC Assistant Professor at UNC Charlotte, to support education, research and development in advanced analytics applications for utilities as well as oil and gas.

“The new SAS grant will offer our students invaluable hands-on experience with the analytics software that hundreds of energy companies use for operations and planning,” said Hong. “That experience with SAS Analytics represents a tremendous advantage in the energy job market. They can go to employment interviews and their first days of work with added confidence from that experience with state-of-the-art technology.”

Beginning August 2014, EPIC courses will use SAS® software to introduce descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics and their applications in energy forecasting, demand response analytics, outage management, energy trading and risk management.

“We have already seen utilities recognize business value from SAS Energy Forecasting and SAS Visual Analytics. By integrating these technologies into the EPIC curriculum, we are enabling UNC Charlotte to prepare the next generation of energy analysts,” said Alyssa Farrell, Product Marketing Manager for Energy at SAS. “Competition for talent is increasing, and utilities will want to consider hiring EPIC’s engineering graduates.”

This announcement was made at SAS world headquarters in Cary, NC during the Night of Innovation, a showcase of new ideas and solutions for the utility industry. SAS also presented energy analytics advances at the Utility Analytics Summit, an annual strategic conference produced by the Utility Analytics Institute that addresses the unique issues and complexities utility professionals encounter from grid analytics, customer analytics and analytics-infrastructure initiatives.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 70,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW® .

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