Boosting Your Data Science Knowledge with SAS® Training

This is an article from the Game Changer Series, first published on LinkedIn

Stefan Stoyanov

16 Sep 2019 · 9 mins

As you may know from my previous article about the ‘game-changer’ SAS Viya ☺, I started to explore the world of data science one year ago. I wanted to acquire as much knowledge as possible during my MSc Business Analytics course. That is why I was very excited to know that during my placement at Boemska, I was going to learn new technologies which weren’t taught in the first two semesters at the University of Surrey. I was about to be immersed in the fantastic world of SAS and big enterprise analytics. ☺

As a ‘game-changer’ ☺, who was pursuing a new career path, I knew that jumping into the deep waters of data science would be tough. The studies at the university were challenging, especially given the fact that I had no previous experience in the field. However, when I started learning SAS Viya, I was surprised how much easier it was to me to absorb the knowledge taught in the SAS Training Programs. They changed my learning experience most positively and boosted my confidence, proving to me again why SAS is a game-changer.

Like with the last article, I wanted to share these experiences with you.

Some things I really liked about the SAS Training Programs:

Well-structured and rich, high-quality content. The concepts are presented gradually from the simplest to the more advanced ones, building up your knowledge piece by piece. The knowledge is offered in several different forms where each one complements the others:

√ Engaging videos and comprehensive visualizations

Firstly, the concepts are presented and explained comprehensively in short engaging and informative videos. I was impressed that each word and sentence in the SAS videos seemed so carefully selected. There is no unnecessary information or overly long explanations. At the same time, interactive and dynamic visualizations in the videos enhance the comprehensiveness of the taught material. Moreover, SAS courses provide lots of demos of analytics procedures.

I like videos. Usually, with slides, the topics are explained just by few words in bullet points. While, in a video, you can hear a speaker explaining the concepts in a clear language, and read the subtitles. More of your senses are included in the learning process. SAS videos are also complemented by a transcript which you can read additionally and thus enhance your knowledge absorption. The transcripts really helped me a lot.

To give you a flavour of the training courses videos, here I share with you one of the SAS free ‘How To Tutorials’:

This demo video teaches you only in several minutes how to ‘Impute Missing Values in Model Studio’.

√ Additional concise text summary on a topic

Many of the course videos are complemented by short informative reviews on some of the key subjects. Such text provides more details and let me get an even better understanding of the concepts. For example, this table represents (on only two pages) an excellent comparison of the most commonly used supervised Machine Learning algorithms:

This comprehensive overview allowed me to quickly understand how to choose the most appropriate Machine Learning algorithm for a specific analytical task, given the characteristics of my data. I have a story about this ☺

One evening, I was playing football with my coursemates, like we do every week. A colleague was having some problems selecting an algorithm to use for his dissertation, and he casually asked me about my approach. The new knowledge enabled me to help him immediately. It took us only five minutes to discuss and choose the suitable Machine Learning algorithms to use for his dissertation. Isn’t that awesome! This was when I realized how much more relevant knowledge I acquired from the SAS Training courses in addition to my MSc course material. It really boosted my confidence. ☺

The new knowledge enabled me to help him immediately. It took us only five minutes to discuss and choose the suitable Machine Learning algorithms to use for his dissertation. Isn’t that awesome!

What else helps build confidence? Practice! ☺

√ Practice materials

After the presentation of each topic in the SAS training courses, there are several short practice tasks with different levels of difficulty. These exercises gave me the chance to gradually build my data science skills, piece by piece and without stress. Such an approach really keeps me motivated throughout the whole learning journey.

The quiz at the end of each lesson allowed me to check my understanding of the taught topics. The feedback provides you with the right answers and comments on whether you were right or wrong. It refers you to the relevant teaching content to read again if needed. It made it easy to keep track of my progress and master what I learned.

However, theory is not everything! SAS has a much wider variety of materials designed to prepare you to become a real data scientist! ☺

√ Applied real-world business case studies

I thought that the short exercises at the end of each lesson were the only practice tasks within the SAS training courses. However, at the end of the SAS Programming 1: Essentials course, I was again nicely surprised. I got the opportunity to start applying my new data science skills in a real scenario. I feel I learned the most from this part. SAS helped me implement a business task with guidance and hints, and taught me how to approach a real-world problem! ☺

I was so excited that I was able to finish the case study in only one day. The greatest benefit was that the case study taught me to think critically. I had to choose the most appropriate analytical procedures and options to solve a real-world, complex task. It really helped me to develop my problem-solving skills as well.

Now, I hope you can see why I am so excited about how SAS helps you to build your data science skills. Starting from the most straightforward concepts and building piece by piece your skills until you can solve a real-world business challenge. It is awesome!

As I now have solid foundations on the taught topics, I want to explore more analytical features. ☺ I found out that SAS had the right materials for the next level of my studies. ☺

√ SAS documentation, examples and papers

The training videos provide references to advanced SAS documentation, and guidance for conducting analytics in specific business areas, for instances such as healthcare analytics or financial fraud detection. Using this, you can learn in more detail how to put the wide variety of features of the analytical techniques into practice.

For instance, here, you will find many tutorials and examples of data preparation using SAS Data Explorer as part of SAS Viya.

And here, you will also find lots of practical examples from real-life industries with helpful explanations on how to implement different analytical techniques, specifically within the SAS environment. If you want to get an idea of how SAS makes it easier to understand the analytical procedures, check out this practical industry example. It shows you how a petroleum company which uses a turbine to heat water into steam can analyze the turbine performance by creating a box plot:

Analyzing the turbine performance of petroleum company by creating a box plot Furthermore, you may want to learn how you can complete different tasks to achieve a goal as part of the whole analytics cycle. You can browse and read plenty of SAS papers. They give advice on how to get the most value specifically from a SAS environment. ☺

So, if you already think that learning data science with SAS Training is fantastic, let me show you something extraordinary! You will fall in love with SAS Training, as I did.

Are you ready for the most amazing part of my SAS learning journey? ☺

Unbelievable learning support from SAS! Wow! If you have a specific question on some topic and feel you can’t move to the next section without understanding the previous one, do not hesitate to ask a question. I did it and didn’t regret it.

While taking the ‘Machine Learning using SAS Viya’ course, I decided to click on the ‘chat’ button, and ask a question about one of the Machine Learning algorithms. I really did not expect much from this. But I was surprised that I received a comprehensive and detailed email explanation only a few hours later. I fully understood the advanced concept in just five minutes. The SAS Education expert Lauren Wah was very kind and encouraged me to ask more questions. So cool! I got excited and more motivated to continue learning advanced analytics topics.

I really did not expect much from this. But I was surprised that I received a comprehensive and detailed email explanation only a few hours later. I fully understood the advanced concept in just five minutes.

And, just when I thought that there was nothing more I could expect from the SAS Learning Support; something else happened that left me speechless. ☺

When practicing my coding as part of one of the advanced SAS modules, I saw an error in the program log, which I was sure should not be there. So, I emailed explaining my problem. What happened is unbelievable! Cynthia Zender, SAS Education expert, made a 10 min YouTube video tutorial to help me fully understand the answer to my question! If I were you, I wouldn’t believe me! ☺ But I don’t want you to think I am a liar! ☺ Therefore, I will give you evidence! I am sharing with you my ‘personal’ YouTube video :), that Cynthia Zender created for me. Cynthia, thank you once again. Such a fantastic learning support!

Tell me as a student what else I can want from #mySASjourney! ☺

The Game Changer: SAS Training ☺

You see now why I really appreciate the well-structured, high-quality content provided by SAS. Some of the SAS courses like ‘Introduction to Statistical Concepts’ and ‘Machine Learning using SAS Viya’ boosted my specific understanding of the data science topics we studied at the university.

The support from SAS gave me confidence that whatever learning obstacles I come across during my course of study, I have someone I can ask for help. I do not have to waste time trying to find the optimal learning material to understand the concept of a specific analytical task. I do not have to wonder when or how to implement it.

I strongly recommend any SAS Learning courses as a way to complement and advance your academic studies in Data Science. Now, I am sure I will succeed to obtain the data science knowledge and experience I have been dreaming of. ☺