Big Data Benefits: M.S. in Business Analytics Students Help Vietnam War Veterans with Digital Tool

January 31, 2019
USS Alamo

UVA’s new Master of Science in Business Analytics Program is already making an impact.

The 12-month degree offered in partnership by the McIntire School of Commerce and the Darden School of Business prepares students to use big data and business analytics to inform strategic business decisions, drive value, and create competitive advantage. And students in MSBA’s first class have already applied what they are learning to help rectify a longstanding health benefits issue for sailors who may have been affected by toxic herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

In response to a contest held by software company Tableau, MSBA students Brian Harris, Alexi Himarios, Matthew Jacobs, and Jackson Sutherland created a digital tool that uses digitized ship records to map sea routes—and confirm time spent in the Agent Orange exposure zone, defined as within 12 nautical miles of a boundary off the coast of Vietnam.

Their work, which quickly accomplishes what might have taken weeks in the past, comes at a critical time. A federal court ruled Jan. 29, 2019, that the Department of Veterans Affairs must extend health benefits to those who served offshore. The MSBA students’ tool will be invaluable in proving whether a particular ship and individual sailor were stationed in the exposure zone, thereby making veterans and their families eligible to receive the benefits they deserve.

Read the full article in UVA Today to learn how MSBA students are using data for good.