ORU Helps Attract Business to Oklahoma

Business Presentation to OklahomaJust weeks after ORU introduced its new supercomputer, Titan, a multi-disciplinary team of ORU students and faculty were putting it to the test by providing critical data to attract business to the State of Oklahoma.

Thanks to Dr. Ardith Baker, Assistant Chair of Business; Dr. Andrew Lang, Chair of Computing and Mathematics; Jane Malcolm, Assistant Director of ORU’s Library; and Dr. Jonathan Wiley, Assistant Professor of Finance, ORU recently collaborated with Oklahoma’s Department of Commerce to provide data on what companies would be most likely to set up shop in the state. Dr. Lang recruited a few of his mathematics and finance undergraduate research assistants to help.  

“I have been doing data science research with Dr. Lang for a few semesters to gain more exposure to the world of data analysis,” said Brandon Jaquis, a 2019 graduate from the College of Business. “I really owe it all to Dr. Lang for setting up this opportunity to get real-life, hands-on experience.”

That hands-on experience included trying to sift through the U.S. Businesses Database containing 15 million businesses and then try to narrow that down to the top 100 that the state could consider recruiting. It clearly became a job for Titan, which has more than 1300 physical, high-performance computing cores and can perform 45 trillion calculations per second.

“We fed Titan a list of assumptions regarding the characteristics we preferred in target companies,” said Jaquis. “Titan then returned a list of over 1900 companies that are strong candidates for relocation or expansion into Oklahoma.”

Not only did Titan identify the best businesses, it also used artificial intelligence to score and cluster the companies on that list based on the most important variables. It identified companies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, and New York that already have strong or supporting industries in Oklahoma such as aerospace and IT.
At the end of the semester, three students including Jaquis presented their findings to Oklahoma’s Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development, Sean Kouplen, and the state’s Secretary of Budget, Mike Mazzei.
“Part of the experience of doing real-life projects is the collaboration among students, faculty, and project sponsors and the presentation of the findings to the project sponsors.  This emphasizes the importance of professionalism in business,” said Dr. Baker.

And that professionalism paid off according to a post Kouplen shared on Facebook.

“This is how you become a Top 10 state,” wrote Kouplen. “Three outstanding Oral Roberts University students, Brandon Jaquis, Caleb Mazzei and Isaak Thompson, spent four months using ORU’s supercomputer to identify companies that are most likely to move or expand in Oklahoma. Their findings were amazing!”

Dr. Lang says the work ORU can accomplish through Titan will reach far beyond Oklahoma.

“Having my data science undergraduate research students work in an open government environment to solve real-life problems is an invaluable part of my students’ undergraduate education,” said Lang. “With the addition of Titan, all ORU research groups now have the ability to collaborate on some big problems with organizations all over the world. It really sets ORU apart from other institutions.”