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Georgetown Students at QF Use Virtual Entrepreneurship to Unlock the Business Power of Data

Robert Laws

In Education City, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) students have been flocking to a trendy new coffee shop called The Data Viz Cafe. But the students at the QF partner university aren’t there to get a caffeine fix. The coffeeshop is a fictitious company website developed for a GU-Q course where students of international affairs will be learning about data visualization and data analytics this semester.

In the age of information, data is king. And for students enrolled in the one-credit introductory data visualization course, learning how to leverage that power is key, explains course instructor Robert Laws. “Evidence-based practice is the cornerstone of higher education. But once we have that data, what do we do with it? How do we apply it to real-world applications? These are the questions we will be answering.”

In the business world, he explained, data analytics is used to streamline business processes, increase efficiency, and maximize revenues. “Using data as a means to drive decision making forward is at the heart of business intelligence.” 

To learn how data is a critical source of competitive advantage in the private sector, students analyze a dataset of the coffee shop’s “transactions” to glean insight into the business performance of the company. And the key to revealing those insights, explains Laws, is data visualization. 

That means column and bar charts, multi-set column charts, pie charts, scatter plots, line graphs, geographic charts, heatmaps, and more. Through software like Tableau, students can experiment with dozens of different visualizations and combinations of data points.

“Having a data set of over 230,000 individual order records is overwhelming to parse on its own. That’s where software and data analytics comes in to save the day. Students learn how to approach the coffee shop’s data with a flexible perspective, and discover the best way to visualize the data to tell the right story.”

Students will also be adding to the dataset by placing fictional orders for beverage, food, and gift orders. The skills learned in this course can be applied to other courses across the academic curriculum and will be valuable in job search and career advancement after graduation.  The deadline for Fall 2021 admission at GU-Q for high school and transfer students is February 1, 2021. Information about the application requirements and contact information for the Admissions Office are available at https://www.qatar.georgetown.edu/admissions/