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UTSA professors develop software to improve how companies train their data analysts

UTSA professors develop software to improve how companies train their data analysts

David Cortez, Paul LeBlanc and Leslie Doss will use the NSF grant for customer discovery.

(April 1, 2019) -- H. Paul LeBlanc III, UTSA professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Communication, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help him further his research and market software that reduces the time corporations and organizations use to train data and analytics employees.

LeBlanc first introduced his prototype at the 11th Annual Innovations in Online Learning Conference in San Antonio in 2015. The project captured the attention of the UTSA Office of Commercialization and Innovation, which sponsored LeBlanc and his team, Leslie Doss, lecturer in the UTSA College of Business, and David Cortez ’16, UTSA communication graduate student, to travel to the Southwest Regional I-Corps workshop in Houston last summer.

At the conclusion of the three-week workshop, LeBlanc’s team was one of only a few recommended to apply for the NSF I-Corps grant.

“During our summer project, we learned that companies sometimes spent upwards of a year training their new employees to apply their statistical knowledge to real-world research problems,” said LeBlanc.” Our hope is that we can reduce this training time dramatically through our software.”

The NSF I-Corps grant will allow LeBlanc’s team to travel to top medical centers in 11 cities throughout the U.S. to interview research coordinators and data analysts about their job needs.

In May, the UTSA researchers will be traveling to Nashville to participate in this technology accelerator program geared toward development of a commercial product based on LeBlanc’s working prototype. The workshop will assist them in conducting customer discovery that matches the product design with the needs of the market. They hope to eventually produce a suite of software products to assist data analysts in applying statistical knowledge to real-world research challenges.

“Dr. LeBlanc’s NSF award will accelerate the commercial development of powerful new software products which will significantly improve training in the critical field of data analysis,” said Dan Gelo, dean of the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts. “NSF funding to the discipline of communication is rare, and this award indicates a high level of confidence, from one of our nation’s top scientific agencies, in the research expertise, applied focus, and collaborative spirit typical of the social sciences at UTSA.”

Navarr Gonzales

Learn more about the UTSA Department of Communication.

Learn more about Paul LeBlanc’s research.

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