Super Analytics Challenge at Katz

Super Analytics Challenge at Katz

#KatzImpact: Super Analytics Challenge

Graduate Students Team Up to Combat Homelessness in the Pittsburgh Community


A new opportunity for Pitt students to be catalysts for change is underway in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

Recognizing the importance of leveraging business skills to positively impact critical social issues, the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business developed and launched its first-ever Super Analytics Challenge, a new community-based initiative. The 2021 challenge addresses the complex issue of homelessness in the Pittsburgh community and formally ran from March 5-26, 2021.

“Our team at Pitt Business worked alongside the University and Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) to examine scenarios that either led people and families into becoming homeless or factors which may prevent homelessness,” says Christopher Barlow, Director of Corporate Engagement and Career Services. “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, homelessness was selected as our focus because of its increasing prevalence as a global issue.”

The many contributing factors of homelessness, such as physical and mental health, the affordable housing supply, economic conditions, and the intersection of the judicial system, as well as the wide availability of published data and research, present an urgent opportunity for Pitt graduate students to provide meaningful insights and proposals for targeted mitigation efforts.

The Super Analytics Challenge served as a one-week hackathon-style competition where graduate students from across the University teamed up to frame a problem, create a data methodology, and generate an operable solution. Twenty-five students were appointed to five teams.

“The goal was for all student teams to generate innovative solutions that Allegheny County DHS may implement,” says Andrew Hannah, Adjunct Professor and Executive in Residence for Pitt Business. “Solutions were judged not only on the depth of their analytical thinking but also the pragmatism of the solution proposed.”

Pitt Business organized an advisory committee consisting of representatives from corporate partners at UPMC, Highmark, Accenture, SAP, the National Association of Counties, and the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Executives from these organizations not only helped shape the challenge, but served as executive coaches, analytical methods experts, and subject matter specialists who worked alongside the graduate students to share experience and knowledge and provide guidance on the proposed solutions.

“The Super Analytics Challenge is an example of Pitt Business reinventing business education,” says Sara Moeller, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs. “Our strategic goals include doing more to partner with our community as a catalyst for change, and to combine classroom concepts with integrated learning opportunities.”

The Super Analytics Challenge is designed to provide impact for all participants, so graduate students may leverage their business skills to work with local experts to combat homelessness. In addition, they will have the opportunity to hone their understanding of real-world concepts by working with experts on a critical issue.

The winning team from the Challenge was awarded a Katz Bridge Program fellowship to continue to implement their solution as a team. This is enabling students to drive even more impact related to this year’s Challenge topic of homelessness.

“At the end of this challenge, we hope that these collective efforts not only enrich our students’ learning experience but leave a positive impact on the wider Pittsburgh community,” says Moeller.
To learn more about how you can get involved in a program like the Super Analytics Challenge here at Pitt Business, please contact our career management team at

“We’re using our skills learned at Katz to dig deep into the data and draw some useful and applicable solutions. It’s helped me realize what we can do to better support homeless people in need.”

– Cara Chun Zhang, student in the Management Information Systems program

Hear more about the inaugural challenge…

…from Sara Moeller, associate dean for graduate programs and executive education in the Katz school, in this conversation with the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Jonathan Kersting.

Listen further to learn more on the results.

“The Super Analytics Challenge is an example of Pitt Business reinventing business education. Our strategic goals include doing more to partner with our community as a catalyst for change, and to combine classroom concepts with integrated learning opportunities.

Events like the Super Analytics Challenge showcase our students’ ability to use their leadership knowledge for good. We hope that these collective efforts not only enrich our students’ learning experience, but leave a positive impact on the wider Pittsburgh community.”

Sara Moeller

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Executive Education, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

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Announcing the AMA Pittsburgh 2021 Visiting Professor Program

Announcing the AMA Pittsburgh 2021 Visiting Professor Program

Last summer, during a pandemic, The CMO Club and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA Pittsburgh) launched the VPP.  Similar to a college internship, the VPP invites marketing professors from the tri-state region into Pittsburgh agencies, marketing departments, and marketing organizations for a mutually beneficial experience during the summer.

Professors found value in the VPP, commenting that it “was great to learn in real-time about real-world problems relating to supply chain, eCommerce, and B2B” and that the VPP experience provided “an opportunity to learn about things I could use in my classroom” and “forged relationships that I believe can help students when networking.”

Participating companies found value as well. A theme shared after working with the selected VPP professor “intern” was that company leaders were able to see their organization “through someone else’s eyes…” and that the workshops and presentations led by the professors were “relevant” and “valuable.”

The attached information provides details regarding the timeline, goals, benefits, and expectations. Please review this carefully, as well as the program expectations, which outline your company’s commitment to participation.

Please join us for AMA Pittsburgh’s Summer 2021 Visiting Professor Program by applying for one of the opportunities to potentially be selected to “visit” a local marketing department, agency, or organization to virtually (or in person if safe/regulations allow) become a Visiting Professor!

To be considered, please complete the application found at this link by the end of day FRIDAY, April 23. The information you provide will facilitate the matching process and help companies identify professors best suited to their company and needs resulting in a mutually beneficial experience. Your application information will be available to participating companies to review. These companies will then rank their top three applicants. Last year, all participating organizations were matched with a professor from their top three!

If you have questions, please contact us directly, or contact AMA Pittsburgh at or Nan Nicholls listed below. We look forward to a successful and meaningful experience for your organization! (Please feel free to share this invitation with your marketing colleagues.)


Nan Nicholls*
Professor, Marketing
Slippery Rock University

Cindy Donohoe**
Highmark Health  

Sean Smith**
Schneider Downs 

*Board Member, VP Collegiate, AMA Pittsburgh Chapter

**Member, The CMO Club Pittsburgh Chapter


AMA Collegiate Case Competition 2021

AMA Collegiate Case Competition 2021

The 2021 American Marketing Association (AMA) Pittsburgh’s Collegiate Marketing Plan competition took place virtually on Friday March 26, 2021. Student teams from five area universities took on the challenge of developing innovative solutions to a well-written complicated and challenging hypothetical case for a hypothetical company.

Over the course of the spring semester, the collegiate teams gathered research, participated in question and answer sessions, and built their plans. A panel of professional Pittsburgh marketers served as judges, and selected the following teams as winners:

1st place – Messiah College (Ben Writer, Joe Crocenzi, and Joey DePaul)
2nd place – Chatham University (Abigail Kneuss, Charles Bradsher)
3rd place – Slippery Rock University (Ben DeRose, Cody Nicastro, Ethan Corbin, Nolan Alan)

Congratulations to all teams above as well as University of Mount Union and West Virginia University who all participated in this year’s competition. From a WVU student participant “The competition was a great experience to see what our peers in other schools are doing when it comes to business, [and] just a good life experience in general…”

As AMA Pittsburgh’s VP of Collegiate Relations, along with our competition sponsor, Robert Morris University, and case author, Dr. Steve Clinton, we extend our thanks to each of the competing student teams and their marketing faculty/advisors. In these “no contact” times, it is refreshing to know that students are still willing to roll up their sleeves, apply things they’ve learned in on-ground and virtual classrooms, and dig in to and learn even more to participate in the case competition.