Monthly Archives: August 2017


12th International Conference on Structural Safety & Reliability

Several members of the combined CORE lab at OU attended the 12th International Conference on Structural Safety & Reliability (ICOSSAR 2017) at the Technische Universität Wien in Vienna, Austria during the summer.

The CORE lab had a combined 5 presentations during the conference!


On Tuesday, August 8, Naiyu Wang and Xianwu Xue both gave presentations relating to resilience and climate change:

  • 2:30-2:50p Dresback, K., Xue X., Xu J., Wang, N., Kolar, R., Geoghehan K.  “STORM-CoRe: A coupled model system for hurricanes, storm surge and coastal flooding to support community resilience planning under climate change”
  • 5:20-5:40p Xue X., Wang, N., Ellingwood, B., Zhang, K.  “The impact of climate change on riverine flooding at the community scale”.

On Wednesday, August 9, Yingjun Wang and Charles Nicholson gave presentations in the general resilience section; and Peihui Lin gave a presentation in the section relating to urban resilience:

  • 10:50-11:10 Wang, Y., Wang, N. “Retrofitting building portfolios to achieve community resilience goals under tornado hazard”
  • 11:10 -11:30 Zhang, W., Wang, N., Nicholson, C., Hadikhan Tehrani, M. “Stage-wise resilience planning for transportation networks”
  • 4:40-5:00 Lin, P., Wang, N. “A simulation-based model for post-disaster functionality recovery f community building portfolios”

OU was well represented in Vienna: in addition to the five faculty/students from the CORE lab listed above who traveled to ICOSSAR, there were separate presentations from Kash Barker and Hiba Baroud (PhD from OU, now faculty at Vanderbilt).

Several colleagues from the NIST-funded Center of Excellence on Community Resilience also participated in the conference including Bruce Ellingwood (CSU), John van de Lindt (CSU), Paolo Gardoni (UIUC), and Jamie Padgett (Rice), among others.

For fun

Outside of the conference itself, Vienna was a beautiful and interesting place — museums, history, and incredible architecture.  I was very happy to enjoy the trip t Vienna with my father.  We enjoyed Stephansplatz, a main square at the center of Vienna, named after its Vienna’s amazing cathedral (two pictures below).   Also had a chance to visit the Schönbrunn Palace and gardens.  Finally, I also made a side-trip to work out with Cross Fit Vienna, “The Dungeon”!


Sr. Data Analyst Position – Open in Plano, TX

JCPenney is hiring Sr. Data Analyst

A friend of mine who works at the JC Penney HQ in Plano, TX just sent me a new job posting — she would love to hire an OU DSA student!  See below for job description and let me know if you are interested!   Please note that JCPenney is not doing Visa sponsoring for this position.

Job posting

JCPenney is one of the nations largest apparel and home furnishing retailers with more than 1,000 stores and We are a diverse community of people, all working together to bring sensational style, sensible prices and the best service possible to our customers. Were looking for talented individuals who want to work in an energetic, respectful, collaborative environment. With a wide array of jobs, internships, training and more, there are countless opportunities for you to grow your career with us.

JCPenney is looking for an experienced data analyst who is eager to learn, to add value, and to do interesting work as a valued member of the Customer Strategy team. This position is data-intensive and will involve use of SQL and SAS software tools to pull data for analysis and reporting purposes. Insights produced by this team inform business decisions in Marketing and beyond, including those by senior executive leaders.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Facilitate the definition of analysis needs and work product requirements of internal clients
  • Translate client needs and requirements into specific data, logic and reporting requirements and realistic work plans
  • Understand and have a working knowledge of customer/transactional level data
  • Strive to structure analysis to provide conclusive insights that directly align to decision-making
  • Prioritize and balance multiple activities in parallel and communicate status proactively to manage stakeholder expectations
  • Understand data sources to determine the correct source(s) and logic to ensure accurate, efficient and timely deliverables
  • Build, run and automate data queries, analysis and reports
  • Speak out when business strategies do not align with data insights and when insights suggest new marketing tactics
  • Identify and log data issues and work with department, IT and vendor teammates to understand and resolve them
  • Proactively seek help from and offer help to JCP teammates to accelerate skill development, business understanding and overall goal achievement
  • Anticipate future insight needs/opportunities and deliver self-initiated value to JCP

Core Competencies & Accomplishments:

  • College graduate with 3+ years of experience
  • At least 2 years experience using databases and SQL (structured query language) and SAS
  • Ability to combine, cleanse and harmonize data for descriptive and predictive analytics
  • Strong math, computer and problem-solving skills, including MS Excel
  • Structured thinker and high attention to detail
  • Strong teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills
  • Desire to consistently meet and exceed stakeholder expectations
  • Desire to acquire new technical skills (e.g., R, Hive, Tableau, Datameer) and business knowledge

Welcome to Fall 2017!

Farewell to Summer

I hope everyone had a great summer and are enjoying the beginning of the Fall 2017 classes begin anew.  I’ve been here most of the summer, and wow! it is great to have the students back — the peace and quiet are nice for a while, but the campus really comes alive in Fall.

My summer included a trip to Disney with the family, a solo climb of two 14,000+ foot mountains in Colorado (Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point), and trip to Austria for the ICOSSAR 2017 conference.

Welcome to Fall 2017 courses

My classes begin on Tuesday, 8/22 — both DSA/ISE 5103 and ISE 4113.

The DSA/ISE 5103 Intelligent Data Analytics graduate course is one which I think is core to data science.  In it we will  study and practice how to deal with real-world data intensive problems.   The topics include lots of data work and some great modeling techniques/applications such as dimension reduction, facial recognition, linear and logistic regression, LASSO, elasticnet, support vector machines, MARS, decision trees, random forests, boosted trees, neural networks, and clustering.  You will use powerful open source statistical programming language (R) and work on hands-on, applied data analysis projects.  No previous R experienced is required.  That said, I will expect you to work hard to learn the tool!  This course is being offered both online and on-campus.

In the ISE 4113 undergraduate course, we will be delving into the nitty-gritty of MS Excel to build spreadsheet-based decision support systems.  Excel is essentially ubiquitous in industry and mastery of it is critical!  We will go way beyond simple formulas and the basic usage of the tool and delve into optimization modeling, simulation, and even Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming.  This class is a big class, but fortunately, we have an excellent TA supporting the class.

DSA club?

One piece of great news is that it looks like there is some interest in starting a Data Science and Analytics club.  I will have more news about this later this semester, but if you are interested in joining such a club, please feel free to email me!  More info to follow!

I  look forward to meeting and getting to know you all this semester!

Charles Nicholson