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Alteryx Alumni (Retired)



As the field of data analytics is expanding rapidly, Cal Poly has partnered with Alteryx to provide its students with modern data analytics education. By ‘modern’, we mean analytics using a drag-n-drop, no-code, code-friendly platform, which makes it possible for non-programmers to ramp up and gather insights quickly.


Dr. Chuancai Zhang discovered Alteryx while still a PhD student at the University of Kentucky. It didn’t take him long to recognize the program’s potential; his background in Python and Stata gave him a particular appreciation for the user-friendliness of Designer, the Alteryx platform (no need for code).


This experience came in handy when Cal Poly asked Chuancai to teach their Accounting Information Systems (AIS) course; specifically, they wanted Chuancai to teach his class how to use Designer. He jumped right in with enthusiasm, using the new learning material from the Alteryx SparkED education program.


The accessibility of Designer is often cited as one of its best advantages over other software, but the passion Chuancai brings to his class is absolutely instrumental in his students’ success. He encourages each of his students to take the Alteryx Designer Core certification exam. The pass rate has been so high that the SparkED team reached out to offer scholarships for his students.


Chuancai’s passion is not just limited to influencing students on the technology value proposition. He is also currently encouraging his colleagues to acquire critical training in technology and data analytics by attending his workshops on Alteryx.


One of the first scholarship recipients, Stephanie Chan, had been introduced to Alteryx before taking the AIS course, as it was recommended to her by an accounting company recruiter. Stephanie plans on going into public accounting, and thanks to the SparkED scholarship, she’s able to consider a graduate program that otherwise would’ve been financially out of reach. Stephanie describes what makes Alteryx her first choice for data analytics:


“The Designer software is so accessible and easy to learn. It’s almost like a game; using the tools to solve logic puzzles.”


Another scholarship recipient, Matthew Thompson, is particularly grateful for the scholarship because it means his parents will have an easier time putting his younger siblings through college. He was first introduced to data analytics through his love of sports:


“Many sports teams–especially in baseball–have turned to using data analytics to evaluate players. Data analytics is the foundation of almost all successful franchises in baseball.”



Zachary Olson, another scholarship recipient, believes that data analytics is one of the best skillsets for a career in business.


“I am pursuing a statistics minor, so when I heard that data analytics was a big part of the AIS curriculum, I was super excited. Turning an enormous dataset into something that can actually be useful is something that is really interesting to me. It was a no brainer for me to take the Core certification exam (we also got some extra credit). I’m always looking for resume builders and new skills to learn, so I was happy to take the exam.”


He’s found that data analytics is easier to learn in a hands-on way, and Alteryx SparkED is the perfect resource for that. For example, he says that the canvas feature, which allows you to see exactly which functions you’re using and how they work together, is particularly helpful. “In terms of software, Alteryx is a fantastic entry point.”



“With markets being more and more dense with quality companies, analytics has become vital to help identify market patterns, personalize content, and have a better understanding of customer demographics, just to name a few. We are entering an era where this will be extremely crucial to business success.”


“Data analytics is the future of business. It will be a fantastic skill in my toolbelt to guide strategic decisions for my company.”


Of course, all three scholarship students have earned their Alteryx Designer Core certification, which gives them a resume boost for their future job search: an industry-recognized validation of what they have learned, and what skills they will bring to the job to make a difference from Day 1.


The SparkED education program provides students with meaningful ancillary experiences such as mentoring and career networking opportunities with professionals from Alteryx and its customers. Students can also access a global job board to connect with hiring managers.


According to Chuancai and his students, as the sheer volume and diversity of data continue to increase in our digital world, the demand for knowledge workers with at least some analytics skills is similarly expanding in almost every field. From finance to engineering to healthcare, organizations seek individuals who know how to ask the right questions, gather the right data, and gain valuable insights, either individually or on a team.


Not everyone needs to become a data scientist or focus exclusively on analytics. Nor does everyone want to become a programmer to be effective with data. Today, graduates with modern analytics skills stand out in the job market, across any field where data is vital to make innovative decisions.


Educators everywhere are looking to expand their student offerings, and SparkED is proud to be a part of it, at Cal Poly and at more than 800 other education institutions around the world.


To learn more about the SparkED education program, visit www.alteryx.com/sparked.