Iris Huang Tackles the Business Analytics Field

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is giving graduate student Iris Huang the knowledge, skills and connections to succeed in one of today’s hottest fields: data analytics.

Every Chinese New Year, Iris Huang would save the money she received in the traditional red envelopes limned in gold. She remembers being just 6 years old and putting the cash in a cookie jar for safekeeping.

The first-grader had told her class she hoped to be the first in her family to go to college. A boy then snarled at her, “You know that costs like $50,000, right?” That unkind comment was what first spurred her to start saving.

As she grew up, Huang knew she had the grades and the motivation to earn a degree, but she also realized the cookie-jar savings clearly weren’t going to suffice.

“I had always wanted to go to college, for as long as I could remember,” Huang explains. “I studied really hard and did my best in school, but I didn’t know if this dream would ever be achievable because I came from a very low-income household.”

It wasn’t until she met with a high school counselor that she learned about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. “I remember feeling so relieved … Going to college became a possibility because of financial aid,” Huang says.

When it came time to choose a university, Huang knew only that the school would have to be affordable and give her a hands-on learning environment.

She turned to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

The White-Hot Field of Big Data
Thanks to a number of Advanced Placement high school courses under her belt when she arrived at Cal Poly in 2014, Huang was able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business and a concentration in information systems in just three years.

Now in her fourth year, she’s enrolled in the graduate business analytics program, part of Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business.

“Before [Cal Poly], I never thought I would even go near the tech field. I didn’t even know business analytics existed,” Huang notes. “Cal Poly has its ‘Learn by Doing’ philosophy, which really resonated with me. A lot of our students are conducting and leading their own projects.”

In the simplest terms, big data analytics involves gathering, organizing, analyzing, and communicating copious amounts of information.

“You can analyze basically anything using big data analysis tools,” says Huang. “My favorite part is visualizing findings and uncovering the story hidden in the data. It’s much easier to show a graph to someone who is unfamiliar with a topic versus showing them a bunch of numbers.”

Data analytics — a field the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will grow 27 percent by 2026 — is so new and quickly evolving that it will almost certainly give Huang her pick of jobs.

“We are learning how to organize data, find insights from the data, and communicate this to executives and key decision makers,” says the 21-year-old.

“You can do pretty much whatever you want with [the degree]. Big data is such a powerful tool.”

Connecting with Industry
If a degree is only as good as its ability to transform your life and your career, there’s already evidence that Huang is on her way to doing meaningful work.

“Getting into the graduate program at San Luis Obispo got me so much more exposure to big data and allowed me to get my foot in the door,” says the first Cal Poly Scholar, a need-based scholarship program, to graduate from Orfalea.

“At the CSU, we as students have so many industry connections available to us,” continues Huang, adding that contacts she’s made have led to internships at Kaiser Permanente and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. At Kaiser, she learned how to diagnose patients using big data by running patients’ lab results through an algorithm written by doctors; the formula could determine who was at risk for certain diseases.

“Sometimes doctors would miss a diagnosis. These projects identified people who would have otherwise been unaware of their illness and helped them get proper treatment,” she explains.

“My parents heavily emphasized education growing up,” says Huang, who also speaks Cantonese and Mandarin and immigrated from China with her parents at the age of 3. “They truly believe education has transformative powers … to make the positive changes in the world you want, allowing you to break out of your socioeconomic situation.”

That message is not unlike the one that has permeated Huang’s time at the CSU: “At Cal Poly, they teach us to not just focus on the technical aspects, but also be sure to focus on your personal values and what you want to get out of your career.”

Learn more about Cal Poly’s Master of Science in Business Analtyics program.

Iris’ article was written by the CSU and appeared as a CSU Profile. Visit the original page.

Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business Spring 2017 Commencement Information

Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business Spring Commencement

Graduate Programs Commencement: Friday, June 16, 2017

The Orfalea College of Business’ Graduate Programs will celebrate commencement during a private ceremony on Friday, June 16, 4-6pm at the Performing Arts Center for accounting, economics and MBA graduates.

For ticket information, please contact the office at or by calling (805) 756-2637.

All graduates will have their names read in a hooding ceremony. Following the ceremony, there will be light refreshments served in the lobby. Guests are welcome to take photos.

Orfalea graduate students should not attend the undergraduate ceremony.

Undergraduate Programs Commencement: Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Orfalea College of Business has announced its spring 2017 commencement schedule. The college will host a joint commencement ceremony for its undergraduate programs with the College of Liberal Arts on Saturday, June 17 at 9 a.m. in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

All students will line up at 8:00 a.m. before the ceremony in the Business Building breezeway.

At the event, each graduate’s name will be read. There will be a commencement address during the program.

All Orfalea College of Business graduates and their supporters are invited to recess to the Breezeway after the ceremony for light refreshments and photos with faculty. The Orfalea College is not hosting any other college or department ceremonies that day.

View Cal Poly’s Commencement page for information regarding parking, attire, seating in Spanos Stadium, and more.


Cal Poly has gathered the information you will need to have a safe and enjoyable commencement experience. Please read through our website to help you plan your visit and make the most of this memorable occasion.

  • Commencement will last several hours.  Please have consider a meal or snack before the event.
  • Please dress comfortably and sensibly. There may be lengthy walks between venues. Campus terrain is hilly in some parts. Wear shoes that allow you to climb stairs and walk on various surfaces including asphalt, concrete, and grass.
  • Weather varies. Please check the weather as the event approaches.
  • Spring ceremonies are generally held outdoors. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Guests will receive water bottles when they enter the university-wide ceremony.
  • Gates open one hour prior to the ceremonies. Graduate processional into the stadium will begin 20 minutes before the ceremony start time.
  • Graduates are provided with (10) ten guest tickets. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Spanos Stadium is equipped with bleachers.
  • Coordinate a place and time to meet your graduate after the ceremony that does not inhibit the flow of guests at venue entrances/exits.
  • Be sure you have your tickets in hand before the ceremony.
  • Ultimate Exposures provides professional photography services for commencement. Photos of the ceremony can be purchased from Ultimate Exposures online.
  • Cal Poly events take place in smoke-free environments. Please plan accordingly.
  • For the safety of your pets and all guests, we ask that you please leave your pets at home. Only service animals are permitted on campus during the commencement exercises.
  • Alcohol, fireworks, glass bottles and weapons are prohibited.
  • During the ceremony, medical personnel are located next to the main entrance.


From Los Angeles on Route 101 North

  • Take the Morro Bay, Highway 41 exit.
  • Turn right onto Toro.
  • Turn right onto Walnut.
  • Turn right onto Santa Rosa (California Highway 1).
  • Turn right onto Highland, entering onto the Cal Poly campus.

From San Francisco on Route 101 South

  • Take the Santa Rosa exit.
  • Turn right onto Santa Rosa(California Highway 1).
  • Turn right onto Highland, entering onto the Cal Poly campus.

Click HERE for map to Highland Drive


  • Permits are NOT required to park on campus during commencement.
  • General parking will be available in lots H1, H12, H14, and H16.
  • Grand Ave. will be closed for move-out and California Blvd. will be closed for commencement. Guests will need to enter campus from Highland Drive.


  • Ten (10) guest tickets are distributed to graduates via e-mail in April. Date is still TBD.
  • Tickets are required for all guests attending the commencement ceremonies.
  • Any child under the age of 3 does not need a ticket.
  • Students are responsible for distributing tickets to their guest prior to the ceremony.
  • Each ticket is unique and will be scanned before entrance into a ceremony.
  • Duplicating tickets will result in some of your guests being turned away due to invalid tickets.
  • Additional tickets will not be available for purchase. Students who do not use their ticket allocation are encouraged to share with others.



  • Accessible parking is located in the Lot C-7 on California Boulevard off of Highland Drive and lot H-2.
  • A disabled placard is required to park in accessible lots.
  • Please click here for a map.

Accessible Drop-Off Point

  • Guests with mobility impairments can be dropped off at a designated loading/unloading area on California Boulevard. It is located on California Boulevard at the Northwest corner of the stadium.
  • California Boulevard can be accessed from the Hwy. 1/Highland Drive entrance to campus.

Accessible Shuttle Service

  • Accessible shuttle service is provided for guests who are mobility impaired or disabled, and one companion.
  • Shuttle services will take guests from the parking lots to the Main Commencement Ceremonies and to central areas of campus close to department and college events.
  • Please note that there is a limited number of shuttles available for guests with mobility impairments.
  • Click HERE for a map of the shuttle stops.


  • All commencement venues are wheelchair accessible. Since there are significant distances between the venues, and our campus is very hilly, we encourage guests to bring a wheelchair with them.
  • Mobility Equipment Rentals can be arranged prior to commencement day through the list of providers.
  • Wheelchairs will also be available for guests to use throughout the weekend for no charge.
  • Assisted listening devices are available for check out with a photo I.D. from the First Aid station. Advance reservations are not required.
  • Sign Language interpreters will be located by the stage. Guests who require sign language services should contact the Cal Poly Disability Resource Center at 805-756-1395 in advance of commencement. Please allow as much notice as possible – ideally 2 weeks.


  • Doors open one hour prior to the ceremonies.
  • Guests may enter Spanos Stadium via the facility’s east and west entrances.
  • Access for guests who are mobility impaired or disabled is provided through an entrance located at the southwest corner of the stadium.


  • Guest seating is located in the stadium bleachers and in chairs on the stadium floor, which is a grassy field.
  • Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Accessible seating for guests who are mobility impaired or disabled is located on both the east and west sides and south endzone.
  • Accessible seating is provided for guests who are mobility impaired or disabled, and one companion.


  • Accessible restrooms are located under the west side of the stadium. Accessible portable facilities are located at the four corners of the stadium.

First Aid

  • Medical personnel located on the south end of the stadium field will be available during the ceremony.



  • Ultimate Exposures is Cal Poly’s official professional photography service for graduate photographs. Graduates receive an email message with a link to their images for purchase following the event.
  • Guests are welcome to bring cameras to the ceremony.


  • Live streaming of the ceremonies will be available. Please stay tuned for links to the live stream videos.

Cal Poly Names Industry Veteran as Director of New Business Analytics Program

Kyle HoferCal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business recently named Kyle Hofer, former director of business analytics at Insight Investments, as director of the university’s new Master of Science in business analytics program. Hofer began his position at Cal Poly on May 2.

The program, to begin in the fall, will focus on data analysis as a key decision-making business tool in the data-driven economy.

“We are thrilled to welcome an industry veteran to lead our program at such an important time,” said Sanjiv Jaggia, associate dean for graduate programs in the college. “The demand for
professionals with business analytics experience is overwhelming, and Kyle will be essential in connecting our students to our industry partners who need this kind of expertise.”

Hofer will be responsible for recruiting, admitting and supporting students. He will also build relationships with industry partners as a way to identify and offer real-world projects for students’ culminating experiences in the program.

Hofer brings a strong financial-metrics background to the director position, along with an ability to communicate complex data analysis, business-to-technical requirements, and operational objectives to a range of audiences. He earned an MBA from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in finance from CSU Fullerton. He had more than 10 years of experience at Insight Investments.