By Dean Whittaker

Our team at Whittaker Associates was joined this summer by two Michigan State University interns, Joe Sigler and Yang Fu. Joe is a junior studying statistics and Yang is a graduate student in data analytics, who will graduate in December. One of the joys of working with young people is to learn from them while at the same time teaching & mentoring them about business applications in their fields of study.

We set out to improve our research process, evaluate our approach to our business intelligence research, and apply machine learning to our predictive analytic model. Both young men asked great questions regarding the why, how, and what of our research process. At times, it was a challenge to keep up with them, but I enjoyed their insights and the chance to see our work through new eyes.

Another benefit of working with Yang was learning more about life in China. Yang’s personal stories reminded me of the importance of freedom of speech, which I sometimes take for granted. The situation in Hong Kong these past months has been of keen interest to our team.

Joe taught me about passion for sports. He is an avid baseball fan and has been a baseball umpire since he was 14 years old. His dream career is to work with baseball statistics. Think Money Ball, the book and film, about using statistics to form a winning baseball team.

As summer draws to a close, I am happy/sad to send Joe and Yang back to school. Their energetic curiosity added spirit to our team. Their questions kept me engaged with details of what we do. Their questions helped me see things in a new way. With gratitude for their contributions to Whittaker Associates, especially for the hope and optimism they embody for a better world, I wish Joe and Yang well in their future endeavors.