A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Master’s Students Tackle Analytics Projects for Companies

Business analytics capstone students gain experience and connections as they dive into real-world challenges
By Laurie McLaughlin |

Louis Young is the CEO of Healthmetryx Inc. in Boston, and he had previously worked with Md Moniruzzaman, lecturer in business analytics at UCR School of Business, on analytics work. And, as Young was looking at other projects within his company that needed attention, “Md said, ‘You know, if you want to turbocharge what you’re doing, we have some really hungry master’s students that would like help,’” says Young.

The CEO made a presentation to UCR’s Master of Science in business analytics (MSBA) students: “They were really enthusiastic about the possibility of working with us,” says Young, who founded Healthmetryx, an exhaled-breath health-data analytics and artificial intelligence company that is working with NASA, NVIDIA, and Amazon to launch the Respiratory Cloud Machine, an IoT-enabled cloud-based AI platform.

“The platform’s intent is to provide drug developers, clinical decision-makers, and population health managers with real-world data and evidence to make better decisions related to the health status of any target population,” says Young.

The grad students were indeed eager to work with Healthmetryx. Each cohort of MSBA students participates in a capstone project like this one: a hands-on, real-world experience that allows students to take the concepts and methods they’ve studied and apply them in a practical setting. “The capstone course for business analytics emphasizes the importance of analytical skills, data visualization, data mining, and big data analytics,” says Moniruzzaman.

A Win-win for Everyone

Working virtually, the five business analytics master’s students provided strategic goals, areas to work on within the company’s data on the Amazon cloud, and how to “plug that data into different visualizations,” says Young.

“They developed a host of analytics visualizations that allow for population health management uses and understanding the status of particular populations—males, females, individuals living in certain states, people working in certain industries, and other categories.”

Young feels the project was a win-win for everyone.

“They did very good work, and we couldn’t be more pleased,” says Young. “Their work positioned us to understand what the analytics and visualizations would look like from an artificial intelligence standpoint and how to use those analytics and visualizations as mockups for our larger work with Amazon and AWS.”

Creating a Capstone Experience

Each year, master’s students work on different capstone assignments, and Moniruzzaman’s extensive contacts within the industry allow for exceptional experiences for grad students. He finds companies that are willing to share existing projects within their organizations and pairs executives with capstone students, who then take a deep dive into an actual business challenge.

“In this instance, Healthmetryx’s expertise in respiratory early detection and self-monitoring technology aligned with some the health care-related problems that the students might work on in their careers,” says Moniruzzaman.

Projects Come to Life
Florian Sterr Headshot
Florian Sterr, MSBA ’22

“It was interesting to see a data-driven project come to life,” says MSBA alumnus Florian Sterr ’22. Along with four other MSBA students, his capstone project was with Lionchase North America (LNA), a private equity firm (which was the initial investor in Healthmetryx).

LNA President Kenneth Brown says the capstone students did an “excellent job. They were an ambitious group and very inventive. They helped us with a large Department of Transportation database and came up with a process to learn how the data could assist us with site location.”

Sterr was a product manager in the banking industry before deciding to make a career pivot, which included earning his master’s in business analytics; the capstone project was a valuable immersion into the work he loves. He is currently a product manager for Playstudios, a developer of free-to-play mobile and social games.

“Using data from the U.S. government predicting the movement of perishable goods through trucking, we investigated and validated an approach to identify ideal locations for the warehouse sites for perishable goods,” says Sterr of the LNA capstone project. “We used geographical information systems in conjunction with statistical analysis programs.”

Executives Understand the Value of Hands-on Immersion

Brown and Young know that taking the time to work with business master’s students is important. “Any real-world opportunity to learn about client needs is extremely helpful. It’s also ideal to learn the limits of technology and intersection of practical approaches to solve problems versus always relying on technology because it might not be available all the time,” says Brown.

Young agrees, and says, “The combination of classroom education and getting experience in the real world is necessary because these students now have a substantive project they can talk about as they compete with their peers for jobs.”