Update 1

After yet another semester working with Excel and documenting some tools I’ve learned, I think it is even more evident that Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful data manipulation software. I focused mainly on exploring the VLOOKUP, SUMIF, SUMIFS, and INDEX functions. While these are only a few of the skills I have acquired through my work with Great American Insurance, they are definitely among the simplest and most frequently used in my experience.

I personally believe that these four functions alone are enough for anyone to start working and manipulating data. Not only are they are common functions asked in job interviews, but the logic behind them nurtures critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Although I legally cannot go into specifics, my work with Great American this semester included updating formulas in spreadsheets, creating new spreadsheets that help organize data, and exporting and manipulating data tables from larger databases. In all of my work, I can honestly say Excel was a necessary tool.

Microsoft Excel is often overshadowed by new, fancier data manipulation, but it is undoubtedly underestimated. It is also so widely used that I firmly believe every young professional should have a basic understanding of its advanced tools, particularly the four I mentioned. I hope by sharing my experiences, I inspire others to familiarize themselves with Microsoft Excel and all the advanced functions it has to offer.

As this semester continues I intend to do more research on the importance of Microsoft Excel not only in my workplace but business all around the country. I feel strongly about what I have discovered in my work, but I need to support my findings with more factual evidence. I also need to promote my Capstone to my audience, young professionals like myself, who wish to learn some simple advanced functions in Microsoft Excel to separate themselves from others in the job market.

SUMIF

While the regular SUM function adds up all the values in a given range, SUMIF restricts the values which you would like to sum in a given range. The Structure of a SUMIF is: =SUMIF (range, criteria, [sum_range]).

Where range is the column which has a restrictive quality, criteria is the condition for the data to follow, and sum_range is the range of values to sum IF it passes said condition.

The condition may use comparison operands (<, >, =,<> (not equals)) or strings of characters, both in quotations.

For example, consider the chart below:

To find the number of total pairs of shoes in the store we would simply use the SUM function over the entire “quantity” column. However to find the number of red pairs of shoes only, we would use SUMIF as shown below.

SUMIFS

SUMIFS is a very basic and useful function in Excel that is just one step above a SUMIF. If you are not familiar with the SUMIF function, read about it here first.

SUMIFS is basically the same idea of SUMIF except you can have several criteria, or if statements, you want your data to follow.

Here is the structure of a SUMIFS: =SUMIFS (sum_range, range1, criteria1, [range2], [criteria2], …)

In words, the only values in sum_range which will be summed are those in which range1 passes critera1 AND range2 passes critera2 AND…

For Example: Imagine you are trying to find the number of shoes which are in a particular price range and are a certain color. Suppose you have the following data. To find the quantity of shoes which follow your attributes, you would use a SUMIFS similar to the one below.

There are 8 pairs of shoes which cost less than $40 and are Red.

SUMIFS are quite simple with a little practice and are very useful in larger data problems.

VLOOKUP

VLOOKUPs are used to match a value you are looking for in a table, and retrieve another value which corresponds to it.

The structure of a VLOOKUP is: =VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_num, [range_lookup])

Where lookup_value is the value you want the table to match (this should be the first column in the range), table_array is the whole range of values in the table, col_index_num is the number of columns to the right of the lookup value you wish the function to return (index begins at 1), and [range_lookup] is whether you want the lookup values to be an exact (FALSE) or approximant (TRUE) match. Default is false.

For example, suppose we want to find how many McDonalds are in a particular state, given the appropriate data. We can easily find that value using VLOOKUP as shown below for North Carolina.

 

Planning My Capstone

Throughout the coming semesters, I will be working 10-15 hours a week for Great American Insurance. My Goal is to not only complete the work for the company, but to also document my progress in the things I learn and to eventually share helpful tips and tools with other young professionals.

The majority of the work I complete for Great American is Excel based. Some of it involves more complicated tools and add-ons such as Microsoft Access Database, the use of Macros, and linking to external files. However, my goal in this project is not to document every detail of my work, or even explain the most impressive and complicated projects I work on. I really want to just document the basic Microsoft Excel tools that I find to be most commonly used, and the most helpful in hopes to aid other young professionals in their future internships and careers. Despite the vast use of Excel in workplaces around the country, I don’t think it receives enough attention. Excel provides tools at our fingertips that are easy to learn and use if only one takes the time to understand them.

Throughout the coming semesters I will document various Excel functions that I personally had to learn on the job, and post about them on this page. I will give a short description of the tool and an example of how it is used. I also plan to do a little research on the importance of Microsoft Excel in the workplace. Finding other sources to validate the value in learning these tools is one way to convince those reading my posts that it’s not just at Great American that these skills will be useful.

I hope to focus my project on 3 or 4 functions. This will allow for me to go more in depth, and keep the page simple to read and understand. I am looking forward to not only documenting my work and physically seeing my progress, but also hopefully inspiring others to learn these tools on their own to get ahead of the game a little bit.

By second semester (January) I hope to have the tools that I want to focus on chosen. I will then spend winter break and the start of the second semester creating examples and blog posts about these tools which should be simple enough for anyone to understand. Once I complete the “tutorial” posts, I will do another post with evidence on the importance of Excel in the workplace. I then will share my findings by sending my Capstone project link to STEM underclassmen and anyone else who may want to expand their data manipulation knowledge.

Introduction to my Capstone Project

This past summer (2019), I was fortunate enough to land an internship with an insurance company in Cincinnati. With my freshman year here at Ohio State under my belt, I thought I knew everything I needed to know to jump right into any work they threw at me.

To much of my surprise, I learned that I lacked one skill that is vital in today’s job market: Microsoft Excel. While I had used basic Excel functions in some of my past classes, I did not truly have a grasp on the analytical and data manipulation tools that it has to offer.

The summer was defiantly a learning experience, which I much enjoyed. The skills I have learned will already set me aside during interviews in my future, but I also know that there is so much more for me to discover within Excel.

This is where my second year Capstone project through the OSU STEM EE Scholars program comes into play. Being skilled in data manipulation is a necessity in today’s industry job market, but unfortunately they are skills that many students lack. The Data Quality Campaign supports this idea by stating, “Data is one of the most powerful tools to inform, engage, and create opportunities for students”. Data is everywhere, and knowing how to use and analyze it effectively and efficiently will be useful in any career. Excel is one of the most basic and easiest to learn data manipulation programs, according to Klient Solutech, a business and leadership building website.  My goal in this project is to make more students familiar with advanced data manipulation tools, particularly in Excel, so they too are more prepared for their future careers.

I am continuing the work I began this summer by working part-time and remotely for the company in Cincinnati while taking my classes here in Columbus. Because I will still be working, I will still be learning more data manipulation and Excel tools as this semester progresses.  I will be documenting the functions, add-ins, and other features that use in my day-to-day work. I will then post a brief explanation of that tool on my ePortfolio under the Capstone tab (this page) so others can understand how they are used.

To learn more about why data manipulation and Excel skills are so beneficial to college students visit these sites:

https://dataqualitycampaign.org/resource/data-can-help-every-student-excel/

http://www.klientsolutech.com/importance-of-microsoft-excel-for-students/

I cant wait to see my own progress throughout the coming semesters and to help other students too!

Freshman Year in Review

When I first decided to come to The Ohio State University, I had visions of what I expected my year to be like.  I knew I would have to become more independent; I expected to join clubs and meet people with my similar interest, and I was anxious yet excited to hopefully gain experiences and knowledge to further my academics and all around self.

Now that the year is concluding, I can confidently say, all of my expectations were not only fulfilled, but exceeded.

My first semester centered around my academics.  I worked on perfecting my time management skills by juggling Calculus 2 and my first ever coding class.  Those two classes really helped me understand the importance of making connections with classmates and going to teachers’ office hours. I also went to internship fairs, HACK OH/IO, and several other professional development events. I luckily landed an internship at Great American Insurance in Cincinnati for this summer.

Early in the year I also discovered some of my favorite places to study including the seventh floor of the Math Tower and Kafe Kerouac. Being able to work in a comfortable environment really made it easier to make the campus feel like home.

Once I got settled in and comfortable with my class schedule, I began to get involved around campus. I joined a the Big Data and Analytics Association (BDAA), and found some fantastic upperclassmen mentors in the data analytics major.  The club also brought in working data analysts each week which helped me solidify that I made the correct choice in perusing a career in big data.

Each week was filled with busy classes and loads of work as well as new memories with my friends, making winter break sneak up out of nowhere.

Once I returned to campus in January, it felt strange already having a new schedule. I felt like I was starting over. However, it was much easier this time to get used to my schedule and the work load. I made it a goal of mine for this semester to get more involved in hobbies I enjoy that are unrelated to my major. I could not be happier to say, I did just that.

One of the biggest parts of my life that went missing when I came to college was running everyday with my high school cross country team.  I decided to go out on a limb and show up to OSU’s Running Club for practice one day.  This club alone has filled the gap I was missing, and made me happier. Running club is my daily way to take a break from school, and be surrounded by some bright, friendly people.

This past semester I was also a contestant on Survivor Time and Change (STC). Yes, this is almost exactly like the television show “Survivor”, except it is played on campus with students. STC was hands down the most unique and refreshing experience I’ve had this past year. Going into the “game”, I knew no one, and I had no idea what to expect. I pushed myself to take it week by week and to just be myself. The challenges, strategizing, and everything in between was so fun! Although I got “voted out”, I can confidently say STC provided me with social skills, positivity, and courage I could not have gained anywhere else.

As I look back on this year as a whole, it is amazing to me how much has happened and how fast it went by. It’s almost impossible to think about the first week when I didn’t know half the people who I call my best friends, or where anything was on campus. A year ago I had never looked at a coding program; Now I have worked with about 4 languages. In this past year alone, I feel like I’ve learned more classroom and social skills than I ever have in such a short time. I am undoubtedly more independent, outgoing, sociable, and determined. I cannot wait to come back next year!

Boeing 737 MAX 8 ans 9 Aircraft Failures

When the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircrafts first came out on the market, they were the top of their kind. They sold quickly because of the comfortable seating, LED lighting, and many other amazing features. However, March of this year brought another side to the story. Several of the aircrafts failed while in the air, and crashed, killing those inside. The problem was in the code that sensed if the aircraft was going to stall while climbing, detected by the angle of the head of the plane. This was particularly an issue because planes are normally flown on autopilot, and there was no backup for the sensor failing. Another issue was that some MAX 8’s and 9’s were in the air when the problem was discovered.  To read more about the software issues, crashes, and responses  click here.

See the source image

These terrible crashes were due to failed software and imprecise software testing. The facts are there, leaving little room for biases to occur. Many countries have now even banned all Boeing MAX aircrafts from being flown over their territory.

These aircraft failures are important and impact everyone. I feel that sometimes we, as a society, trust technology a little too much. The coding failure was certainly an unexpected tragedy, but it puts all things into perspective. In all technologies we use, there is some chance for an error to occur in the system. This is why it is important for all those involved in any technological building to be extremely precise and cautious with the lives of those who will be using the object in mind.

Like any bad situation, I believe some good can arise from it in the end. I think our future software engineers will be more careful when designing products with the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 failures in mind. Software testing overall will hopefully become more thorough, and the code itself should be more complex, adding back-ups to each and every element.

These event proved that software testing alone cannot uncover every single problem or bug. It was a terribly accident that was unexpected, yet eye opening. The tragedies of the Boeing aircraft crashes will hopefully benefit future aircraft software.

 

Taste of OSU

Of the dozens of campus events I have attended while here at Ohio State, Taste of OSU was undoubtedly one of favorites. From the wide variety in delicious foods to the incredible cultural dances being performed, there was not a dull moment in the Ohio Union on the night of February 15th.

I have always been fascinated by different cultures, and I love trying new things, especially food. Therefore, ever since I heard about taste of OSU during the very first week of college, I knew it was going to be the perfect event for me. The moment I walked into the Union on the day of the event, I was overcome by joy; The loud music, colorful costumes, and people of various ethnicities taking pride in their heritage made me excited to learn more.

I first tried Indian frybread, a sweet dough coated in honey or jam. I then tried chicken and rice from the Bangladesh booth, and some empanadas. All of the food was incredibly flavorful and unique; there truly is not any other event that I could have tried so much at once!

My favorite part, however, was not the food, but the dancing! Before taste of OSU I had no idea that Ohio State offered so many clubs for so many different cultures. I was genuinely in awe by how talented these people were at dancing, and I was impressed by their courage to perform in front of everyone just to share their culture.

Because of this event, I now have a greater understanding, appreciation, and respect for cultures all around the world. I had no idea Ohio State represented so many different backgrounds, and I am now more aware of and interested to learn about all of the ethnicities that surround me daily. I learned so much about diversity, food, and other cultures from Taste of OSU, and I would attend again in a heartbeat.