Saluki Pride: Jim Nelson makes analytics and artificial intelligence understandable, useful and relevant

Jim Nelson, associate professor and coordinator of the analytics program at the School of Analytics, Finance and Economics and the director of the Pontikes Center for Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, is largely responsible for placing the “analysis” in SIU’s College of Business and Analytics and he introduces analytics and artificial intelligence to students in relevant ways, according to colleagues and students.

According to Kevin Sylwester, interim director of the School of Analytics, Finance and Economics, Nelson was instrumental in developing both the undergraduate and graduate analytics programs within the college. Nelson has also reorganized and revived the Pontikes Center. He delivers intricate analytics and artificial intelligence content to his students in ways that are logical and accessible, they say.

“It’s clear that Dr. Nelson is passionate about the strategic analysis program and the students in it,” said Elizabeth Taylor, a student who has taken several of Nelson’s classes.

She said his passion for analytics and artificial intelligence is evident in his lectures, even in online discussions, and that enthusiasm is infectious, even if the topics can be perceived as technical or boring.

“He brings the material to life and makes it relevant with real-world examples,” she added, noting that he is empathetic and caring for his students, responding to their emails and soliciting their feedback on how to make his lessons even better.

Get to know Jim Nelson

Name: Jim Nelson

Department/title: School of Analytics, Finance and Economics in the College of Business and Analytics, Analytics Program Coordinator, Associate Professor and Director of the Pontikes Center for Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence

Years at SIU Carbondale: 17

Give us the elevator pitch for your job.

I create business leaders who are able to bridge the gap between the massive amounts of data collected by organizations and creating solutions to real business problems. My research follows this because I work with real companies that strive for new ways to solve business problems and create new strategies using the combination of analytics and artificial intelligence.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Learn new things. Seriously – in my research and in my teaching I must always stay on top of the latest and greatest advancements in technology and business practices. Things are moving so fast that I have to keep up so my students can best prepare to make a difference in the real world.

Why did you choose SIU?
The College of Business, as it was known at the time, has world-class faculty and an excellent reputation. That’s what brought me here. What keeps me here are the students and the university management. The amazing diversity of backgrounds and experiences makes my teaching a lot of fun. From first-generation students to business people who have worked for many years, I am always learning something. The other part is the university leadership. Most universities are very fixed in their ways, and it’s hard to change. Having the ability to come up with an idea and then act on it, and then realize it is something very rare. The college’s pivot to analytics and artificial intelligence was amazingly fast, and the way we implemented our new analytics tools was really amazing. Instead of filling out a form and waiting a few years for a response, we’ve gone from nothing to a world-class suite of analytics programs in just a few years, making us the first business university in the country to combine analytics and AI. . We are now the College of Business and Analytics. That’s pretty amazing.

My fondest memory as a child is…
Walking the beach on Midway Island and finding glass Japanese fishing floats that have washed ashore. I still have those floats and they stand proudly in my house.

My favorite meal is:
beeps. Not sure if that’s food but they are really great.

If you’re a collector, what do you collect and why, and how did you get started?
Vintage aircraft instruments and memorabilia. I fly my Cessna 170 where I think my best, 5000 feet in the air, and I can’t throw anything away. Minerals and geodes. Totally cool. Old computer parts. It started as show and tell in the classroom and to mark the evolution of my field.

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