Faculty Spotlight: Adam Petrie

December 13, 2017

Adam Petrie earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in astronomy before he decided to go back to school to pursue a completely different academic direction.

“I got a degree in statistics and operations research at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute,” he says.

While there, Petrie also earned his doctorate in 2007, focusing on decision sciences and engineering systems. After considering several job offers, he accepted one from the Haslam College of Business.

“I liked the program here and felt right at home with the other faculty members when I came,” he says.

As an assistant professor, Petrie teaches statistics at the undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on regression, data mining and statistics. His main interests include refining teaching pedagogy and course development.

“I’ve developed a textbook over the past few years specifically for the undergraduate level regression class I teach,” Petrie says. “The field has changed and the curriculum needs to be updated, so I wrote something that was a lot more approachable and less abstract.”

Petrie’s new textbook includes interesting examples from real-world data sets, and he wrote a supplement to help students with the software used in the course.

“It allows students to get their feet wet using R, an open source software for data analysis,” he says. “Learning R opens a tremendous number of doors for them.”

Petrie is also working to develop an undergraduate capstone course in business analytics.

“I’ve put together about ten case studies, all using real-world data,” he says. “In the capstone course, we go over some pretty big, intensive real world problems businesses are having right now, and that helps to illustrate not only the types of problems out there, but which techniques are being used to solve them.”

The future of business analytics is bright, according to Petrie.

“Analysts have the insight to comb through the data and provide businesses with nuggets that can help them,” he says. “It’s the key to success in the future. We must learn to develop predictive ability, and then prescriptive formulas, optimizing our decisions based on models and analysis.”

Petrie is pleased to observe the department’s growth over the past decade.

“There’s an obvious demand in terms of students and companies coming in and wanting to hire these students,” he says. “It’s really a place where the university can be proud and I’m happy to be part of it.”