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OSU business analytics graduate students Lohit Bhandari, Alex Lobman and Ravi Josyula were all smiles after hearing they won first place in the Student Symposium.

OSU teams place first, third in Student Symposium at 2019 SAS Global Forum

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Oklahoma State University was one of the top performers at the 2019 SAS Global Forum as more than 60 business analytics students and alumni represented OSU at the conference April 28-May 1 in Dallas.

OSU teams won first and third place in the Student Symposium competition, and another group of OSU business analytics graduate students were selected among the top-eight teams out of universities from across the world.

The Echo Escape team of Alex Lobman, Lohit Bhandari, Ravi Josyula and Nhan Nguyen won first place with its presentation, “Identifying Partisanship in Media Articles.” The Real Superhosts team of Man Singh, Soumya Kar Choudhury, Rohit Banerjee and Andres Manniste placed third following its presentation of “Airbnb New York City: Demystifying the Superhost Program.”

“I’m thrilled that the team’s hard work and effort brought us victory,” Josyula said. “Just being able to say proudly that we made the best use of the amount of care, dedication and the opportunity afforded to us, is in itself very satisfying. It also reaffirms my strong belief that the Master’s in Business Analytics program here at Oklahoma State is among the best programs in the world.”

Lobman agrees, “I think the results show that OSU has one of the best data science/business analytics programs in the country. The results we were able to achieve were a direct impact of the program. First, the program teaches the theory and application of data science, including statistics, modeling and the proper business interpretation of results from modeling. Second, once we learn concepts, we then are guided on how to explain them to a non-technical audience. The usefulness of data science results is how well they answer critical business questions and whether they can be presented so that a non-technical audience will buy-in.”

A third group of OSU students – the Data Alliance for Science team – also was among the top eight teams. Surabhi Arya, Prashant Gour, Dhruv Sharma and Jeroen Vanheeringen’s presentation was “Exploring the Intentions of Entering Entrepreneurship for SAS® Global Forum 2019.”

“Everyone involved with the program is extremely proud of the effort that teams from OSU put in for the Student Symposium, and we are very happy that their efforts were duly rewarded,” said Dr. Venu Lolla, adjunct lecturer in marketing and adviser for the OSU teams. “The teams demonstrated inspiring levels of hard work, discipline and commitment. They also displayed excellent levels of creativity, originality, technical skillsets and business acumen while working on their projects.”

Vishal Gaurav
Vishal Gaurav was the recipient of SAS Ambassador Award.

Vishal Gaurav, a second-year student in the OSU master’s of business analytics program, received the SAS Ambassador Award, given annually to only about 10 students worldwide. It’s the ninth year in a row that an OSU student has been recognized with the prestigious award, which includes an all-expense paid trip to the Global Forum, where he and Dr. Goutam Chakraborty presented the paper, “Scouting in Soccer with Applied machine learning.”

“I am extremely honored to have received the SAS Student Ambassador award for 2019,” Gaurav said. “I am grateful for the recognition that I have received for my work. People from Istanbul (Turkey), Barcelona (Spain), Bucharest (Romania) and many more countries appreciated my research paper and invited me to share more of my research work with them.”

A handful of other students and faculty members represented OSU and Spears Business by presenting papers and posters at the SAS Global Forum:

“The structure of the SAS Student Symposium is quite interesting,” Lolla said. “Certain competitions follow the structure of providing data, defining a problem where solutions are measured by a single metric and asking teams to optimize that metric. The SAS Student Symposium instead asks the teams to pick their own data, define their own problem, conduct relevant analyses and present their results. In my opinion, this allows and prepares students to approach problems in the area of analytics from a much broader perspective, think creatively and manage business and technical needs and goals. We push our student teams really hard to participate in the SAS Student Symposium and we are happy with the way the results turned out.”

Chakraborty, director of the Master’s in Business Analytics program at OSU’s Spears School of Business, is pleased with how well the students performed against more than 45 teams from around the world.

“I am extremely proud of our students’ performance at this global event of more than 6,000 attendees,” Chakraborty said. “Our business analytics students continue to dazzle everyone at this conference year after year. While we have been on top-three list before, it is really sweet to win the symposium this year. A lot of the credit goes to the team’s faculty adviser Dr. Lolla, who worked tirelessly with them throughout the semester.”

For more information about the master’s in business analytics program at OSU, visit

For more information about the SAS Global Forum, visit

Third-place team
From left, Man Singh, Rohit Banerjee, Soumya Kar Choudhury and Andres Manniste accept congratulations after placing third in the Student Symposium.
OSU students and alumni
More than 60 business analytics students and alumni represented Oklahoma State University and the Spears School of Business at the 2019 SAS Global Forum.

Media Contact: Terry Tush | Director, Marketing and Communications | 405-744-2703 |

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