M.S. in Engineering Management Duo, Manning BEST Scholar Take Awards

Student researchers pose with Prof. Asil Oztekin Image by Ed Brennen
OIS Assoc. Prof. Asil Oztekin, center, stands with data analytics students, from left, Tyler Murphy, Neha Ajgaonkar, Preeti Deshpande and Vignesh Shenbagarajan.

By Ed Brennen

Seventeen undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from the Manning School of Business presented their work at the university’s 21st annual Student Research & Community Engagement Symposium, held May 2 at University Crossing.

“It was wonderful to see such great participation from our college,” says Manning School Dean Sandy Richtermeyer, who thanked faculty members who served as project advisors and attended the presentations. “This is an incredibly impactful event, and I hope that our college’s participation will continue to grow each year.”

Organized by the Office of Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, the symposium includes an oral presentation competition. Students present their work to a panel of experienced judges, peers, faculty and guests, with an undergraduate and graduate winner chosen from each of the six colleges.

This year’s Manning School undergraduate winner was junior business administration major Tyler Murphy for his project “Industry Speed: A Data Analytics Study of the Pace and Scope of the Pharmaceutical Industry.” Murphy was co-advised by Operations & Information Systems Assoc. Prof. Asil Oztekin and Marketing, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Assoc. Prof. Berk Talay.

Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen poses for a photo with graduate student Vignesh Shenbagarajan Image by Kim Merriman
Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen stands on stage with Master of Science in Engineering Management student Vignesh Shenbagarajan during the awards portion of the symposium.

“It was a really good experience to be able to present my work,” says Murphy, whose concentrations are in marketing and international business. The Scituate native was able to take part in a research project as a junior through the Manning Business and Entrepreneur Scholars in Training (BEST) pilot program.

By using the web scraping tool OutWit, Murphy compiled a dataset of 6,708 unique drug applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2018. He then used several data analytic models to determine how pace (how quickly pharmaceutical companies move in new product development) and scope (how many new products they have) affect financial performance.

“The most challenging part was gathering the data. At one point, my Excel file had 36,000 rows that were 28 columns wide,” says Murphy, who plans to pursue his Master of Science in Business Analytics through the five-year bachelor’s-to-master’s program.

At the graduate level, Vignesh Shenbagarajan and Preeti Deshpande teamed up to win for their project “Understanding the Bank Telemarketing and Term-deposit Subscriptions via Data Mining.” Shenbagarajan and Deshpande, who are both in the Master of Science in Engineering Management program, were advised by Oztekin (who taught their course in decision analytics).

A student shows her research work poster to a fellow student Image by Kim Merriman
Finance graduate student Yi Shen explains her research project to a fellow student during the 21st annual Student Research & Community Engagement Symposium.

“It was a good surprise to win. But more than a surprise, it was very motivating for us because this is our first course in decision analytics,” says Shenbagarajan, a native of India who transferred to the MSEM program last fall from Arizona State University.

Their project looked at how banks use telemarketing to convince clients to make term deposit subscriptions (funds that are locked in for a specified time period, during which the bank invests in financial products with higher returns), as well as what the key factors are for a successful telemarketing strategy.

“Everyone tends to get calls from banks, so it’s a common problem that everybody is aware of,” Shenbagarajan says. “We had a very big area to analyze.”

Deshpande says the semester-long project provided valuable hands-on experience with data analytics concepts such as support vector machines, artificial neural networks and logistic regression models.

“It’s very interesting to learn about such analytics topics. It was a great experience,” says Deshpande, who earned her bachelor of engineering in information science from K.L.E Institute of Engineering in Hubli, India.

Both Deshpande and Shenbagarajan say they enjoy the MSEM program because of the flexibility it provides students in choosing between engineering and business courses.

“Your core set of courses is split 50-50, but the remaining 16 credits of electives is up to you,” Shenbagarajan says. “This is a very beautiful thing.”

A student researcher stands at his poster with his faculty advisor Image by Sandy Richtermeyer
Graduate student Roberto Santos, left, poses with Asst. Prof. Michael Ciuchta during the poster presentation.

They also appreciate the support and encouragement they received from their program coordinator, Prof. Sammy Shina, as well as from Oztekin.

“When you have a motivating professor,” Shenbagarajan says, “you tend to dedicate the majority of your time toward a project that will speak volumes on your résumé.”

Oztekin, whose decision analytics students Neha Ajgaonkar and Rekha Balan were recognized at last year’s symposium, praised this year’s winners for their achievement, saying, “We are so honored by how you represent the business analytics work done at our school.”

Other Manning School undergraduate students to present were: Jennifer Casey (Value to Accounting Information through Big Data Analysis); Nishitha Donthy (Analyzing U.S. Census income using Data Mining Approach); Meaghan O’Brien (Comparative Market Research: Websites and Social Media Platforms of University Business Ethics Centers); Alisha Sorn, Kimberly Christman and Neil Foley (Accounting, Big Data and Management Decisions); Alexander Tang (Impacts of the CARE Act on Reducing Readmission and Mortality Rates among Older Adults); Anqi Tao (Insider Versus Outsider CEOs and Stock Crash Risk); and Amy Ward (Pain of Panhandling: Consumer Donations in a Cashless Society).

Graduate students who also presented were: Rui Hu (Gatekeeper or Facilitator? The Role of General Counsel in Audit Pricing); Peiyi Jia (Market Entry of Social Enterprises); Roberto Santos (A Staged Event: Venture Capital & Technological Impact); Yi Shen (Labor Unemployment Insurance and Bank Loans); Dung Tran (Government Economic Policy Uncertainty and Corporate Debt Financing); and Yiye Zhang (Big Bath and Audit Pricing).