Boeing Leaders Presented with TOM Data Mining Project Results

TOM students stand in front of presentation slide on monitor with Dr. Kumar and Boeing leaders


Boeing executives recently made a trip to Cal Poly Pomona where students provided highlights of gigabytes of data measuring how well Boeing engages a South Carolina community.

Technology and Operations Management students Ilya Ermin, Conner Martin, Erik Larsen, Erin Dockins and Leonardo Jimenez accompanied by faculty advisor Dr. Rita Kumar have spent months using industry-leading software to evaluate key performance indicators for Boeing. The May 30 presentation for three of its managers is the latest of an ongoing series of projects between the aerospace giant and the College of Business Administration’s TOM department.

“This is the third year of our partnership with Boeing on Data Analytics projects,” Kumar said. “The project has been invaluable in providing an experiential learning opportunity for our students. This is a core value for Cal Poly Pomona, and a key element of the College of Business Administration’s vision, which espouses ‘Success through partnerships.’”

The TOM department began recruiting its top students for the team in fall 2017. From winter 2018 to the day they had to report its findings, team members spent an average of 8 to ten hours of personal time running visualization software while organizing, manipulating and generating graphs.

By digging into a real data set, students learn how unorganized database can be and experience the process of making sense of the data points. In addition, students utilized SQL to program data into more accurate and understandable terms.

To gain inclusion in the brief two-hour presentation timeframe, information needed to be relevant and interesting to Boeing. Kumar said the first objective was insight on how Boeing’s charitable givings are affecting the educational indicators in South Carolina. The second objective was researching the state’s aerospace industry and how Boeing’s presence has affected the local economic climate.

“In the rise of big data, database management and machine learning, data analytics is more and more valuable to employers,” Martin said. “The biggest project challenge was making data usable – some was only available for specific years or incomplete. We had to come up with a lot of creative solutions.”

In the first two years of the partnership, Boeing asked students in the TOM department to analyze Boeing’s MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) spending to identify patterns and trends. According to “Big Data: The Management Revolution” by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, as of 2012, about 2.5 exabytes (2.5 million terabytes) of data are created each day and doubling every 40 months.

Students have directly benefited from the project through learning new tools and techniques, for example, Tableau, and exposure to a variety of real-world data sets, Kumar said. Along with learning a high-demand skillset attractive to potential employers, Kumar added not all benefits are data-related. Other involved would agree.

“Time-management and teamwork skills were critical in this process,” Ermin said. “Without it, this presentation would not have been so fluidly completed. I had really awesome teammates.”

Beyond the Big Data project, Boeing has supported the TOM department in various ways, including providing two students $1,000 scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year. Clark Rucker, quality manager for the advanced prototyping division known as Phantom Works, has been the keynote speaker of the department’s annual banquet on multiple occasions.