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Meet Jordan Bakerman, who helps R users learn SAS

by Community Manager on ‎12-13-2016 04:01 PM (929 Views)

If you’re proficient in R and want to expand your professional horizons with SAS skills, Jordan Bakerman created a free class with you in mind.


The next offering is Dec. 19-23, 1:00-4:00 p.m. ET.  Registration info and other details are available in this Analytics U Community post, SAS Programming for R Users: Free Live Web CourseJordan Bakerman created SAS training for R users.JPG


Who is Bakerman? And why’d he create a SAS course for R users?

An intern in SAS Education, Jordan is a Vermont native who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his master’s degree in statistics from the University of Vermont. He became interested in statistics as a business major at UVM when he took a required series of courses.


“I quickly realized I enjoyed statistics more than business and decided to get my Masters in Statistics at UVM as well,” he said. “I also had a great mentor at UVM (Richard Single) who challenged me with course work and encouraged me to further my education.”


Another UVM professor, a N.C. State University alum, encouraged Jordan to apply at NCSU. A visit to the campus sealed the deal. “I really like that the NCSU statistics department is large and has faculty from a variety of backgrounds,” he said. “This is perfect for someone who likes to learn about all different statistical fields.”


An internship with the JMP division as an NCSU Graduate Industry Trainee reintroduced Jordan to the business world and gave him hands-on problem-solving experience. After a year as a JMP statistical tester, he joined SAS Education. Through teaching, he discovered a passion for helping people learn statistics.


The following Q&A reveals the story behind the course.


When did you learn R? SAS? What was the experience like for each?

I learned SAS and R as an undergrad at UVM when I took the statistical programming course. The first half of the semester was taught entirely in SAS and the second half in R. I think it is a bit easier to learn SAS given its procedural based language, especially if you have no prior programming experience. I became more comfortable in the R matrix language once my statistical knowledge and experience grew.


What’s the most fascinating problem you’ve ever solved with stats?

The most fun statistical problem I have worked on is a geotagging method. I created a predictive model that predicts the origin of tweets by leveraging the predictive power of both text and network features in Twitter.


What made you decide to create SAS Programming for R Users?

I decided to create this course because increasingly there are students leaving school with only a background in R programming. However, students who seek a career at a company which leverages the capabilities of SAS are at a disadvantage both in the work place and simply obtaining a job.


This course emphasizes learning SAS syntax as opposed to programming or statistical ideas because R users are already comfortable with these concepts. They just need a little exposure to SAS to transfer their skillset to a new programming language. Once they learn SAS, they will be much more marketable in the workforce.


How did you go about creating the course?

This is a crash course in SAS programming. It is designed for people who already know R programming and need to transfer their skills to SAS. That is, “What are a variety of problems people tackle in R and how do we do that in SAS?”


I show students basic programming syntax such as importing data, managing data, creating statistical plots and then more advanced topics like Macro programming (which can be thought of as creating functions in R), inferential modeling, working with the interactive matrix language and finally, how to seamlessly incorporate an R script into your SAS session. I have taught this course once a month over the last six months.


What are the top 3 ways this course will benefit folks who take it?

First, this course provides a cookbook style approach for transferring your skills from R to SAS. Students will be able to use the course notes throughout their career to solve problems until they begin to think in terms of SAS syntax as opposed to R.


Second, we work entirely in the SAS Studio interface to learn all the basic and advanced programming syntax. This allows students to then download SAS University Edition and work within the same interface.


Third, I finish the course by showing how easy it is to write your own R code in SAS to use any open source R package you desire. SAS provides all the functionality to write R code, send code and data to R, and bring back all the results to SAS.


When do you graduate? What would you like to do after you get your PhD?

I am currently ABD (all but dissertation at NCSU) and working part-time at SAS. I hope to continue working in SAS Education when I graduate.

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