Texas Tech University

Innovative Data Analytics Class Prepares Graduates for Future Career in Energy

Kaitlin York

ECON 4344


For the second time in the program's history, Energy Commerce is offering Energy Analytics and Strategies (ENCO 4344), taught by Nikki Kantelis, this semester. The course is required for students who have elected to pursue the Energy Transaction Analysis (ETA) track and serves as a capstone course. Students learn through hands-on active learning techniques, which makes what they learn practical and directly transferable to their future career.

Students who are completing the ETA track typically compete for entry analyst positions, which requires them to understand what data and analytical tools are needed to develop recommendations regarding opportunities and challenges within the industry.

"This class is important because it allows students to gain an understanding of how companies in the energy space - primarily oil and gas - develop business strategy, evaluate projects, acquisitions and divestitures and how they implement strategy," Kantelis said.

In the class, students review a number of case studies which enables them to develop strategies for identifying solutions. In situations where data is incomplete or unavailable, students learn how to make assumptions. This replicates how a future employer may ask a question and expect the employee to gather information and be able to answer it.

Students tackle several questions in the class: How is a changing crude oil price environment going to affect investments? What is the likely impact of new regulations on the oil business? How will your company's strategy change, if at all, with a new CEO? What are the business risks associated with operating in Azerbaijan? Should an exploration and production company hedge its gas production? What is behind Delta Airlines' decision to purchase an East Coast refinery to manage jet fuel price risk instead of implementing a futures/options hedging program like their competitors? How does one complete a competitor analysis?

"Critical thinking is extremely important and employers want to know that graduates not only have the technical knowledge and foundation, but they are able to apply these skills to solve problems, make recommendations and justify their conclusions," she said. "The ability to extract data, analyze data and test ideas is an important part of this process."

In addition to cases, the class also uses the Thomson Reuters Eikon platform. It is widely used in commercial, trading and analytical organizations in the energy industry. Students can analyze programs, markets and economic data using the platform.

"Being able to use Thomson Reuters as a research and analysis tool is what I look forward to the most in Energy Analytics and Strategy this semester," MacKenzie Rice, senior energy commerce major, said. "This platform is what professionals in the energy industry use on a daily basis, which is what makes it so valuable to us as undergraduate students."

The industry's desire for more data analytical skills to complement critical thinking and problem solving skills has resulted in the development of a new Energy Commerce course for ETA students called Energy Data Analytics (ENCO 3392). The course is anticipated to be launched in the Spring 2018 semester. Students will be introduced to Excel analysis and begin their training using the Thomson Reuters Eikon platform. This will allow the program graduates to bring a set of skills that will be beneficial in the entry level analyst positions for which they are competing. Ultimately, the new class will become a prerequisite for ENCO 4344.

"This semester is an exciting time to be an Energy Transaction Analysis tract (ETA) student in Energy Commerce because of the resources we have been given and the success we have seen from past students," Rice said. "Our program challenges us in the best way possible, and I think that is why I enjoy being in these courses. I know no matter how difficult it may seem, I am learning. We have a lot of opportunities because of the dedication Professor Kantelis has and to the growth of our program that most other college students do not get to experience."