experience working with local start-up

UB MS Analytics Students Gain Hands-On Experience Working with Local Start-Up

If you happened to notice small white devices plugged in around UB’s campus this past semester, you might not have had a second thought about what they were or why they were there — you may not have noticed them at all.

These devices, however, noticed you. More accurately, they detected foot traffic patterns around University of Bridgeport’s campus. These IoT (Internet of Things) devices around UB’s campus were the result of a collaboration between UB MS Analytics students, faculty, staff, and a local tech start-up, Foot Traffic Stats.

UB Analytics Students in Action

MS Analytics students deployed the sensors to monitor foot traffic patterns around campus in a two-pronged approach, providing data analysis support for the small tech company, while gaining real-world experience in their future field. Additionally, the data gathered and analyzed by UB MS Analytics students presented information about University foot traffic patterns, which can be used by UB staff to make data-informed decisions based on when certain on-campus buildings get the most foot traffic.

Innovative Experiential Learning at University of Bridgeport

Under the guidance of Assistant Professor Ali Baker, Ph.D., students in his Foundations of Business Analytics course became Foot Traffic Stats’s dedicated analytics team, helping the start-up work through their data-gathering and dashboard development during the 2023 spring semester while applying practical applications of their learnings in the real world. “This was an experiential learning opportunity for the students where they applied concepts such as project management, data movement, and analytics development throughout the semester,” said Dr. Baker.

The students deployed six devices throughout campus and created a dashboard using PowerBI to track and showcase their analysis of the devices. “Throughout the project, the students gained experience working collaboratively with product developers at Foot Traffic Stats through their Slack channel,” continued Dr. Baker.

This kind of hands-on learning helps prepare MS Analytics students for their future careers, helping them to grow the skills they will need on the job, such as communicating with product developers and other teams within organizations, along with managing the day-to-day tasks within a larger project. It’s one thing to learn about business analytics, but having the opportunity to put those skills into practice in real-world scenarios like this is invaluable to UB students as they prepare to enter their careers.

Foot Traffic Stats co-founders, Frank Kuchinski and Matt Kern, developed the concept for their foot traffic sensors by observing the need for small businesses, municipalities, and other organizations to understand the foot traffic patterns around their businesses and events. The problem, up until now, is that most foot traffic sensing systems are designed for larger commercial operations, the costs of which are out of reach for most local and smaller organizations.

Foot Traffic Stats aims to be a more affordable option for businesses and organizations to use real-world data to make smarter business decisions with only a small monthly service fee and sensors user-friendly enough for someone to install themselves. “This is the first pilot project we’ve been able to get off the ground,” said Kern. “With UB’s contributions, we were able to get our prototype dashboard established while learning some areas to improve our devices. Working with UB allowed us to realize what kind of feedback we may get from an initial client when we go to market.”


Learn more about University of Bridgeport’s Ernest C. Trefz School of Business!


Tracking Foot Traffic Patterns on UB’s Campus

The UB students were charged with monitoring the sensors, ensuring they were functioning while troubleshooting any that went offline. The students worked in groups, each dedicated to one device on campus, to analyze the data gathered by the devices and report their findings. As the data came in, the sensors sent the information to cloud storage. The students then exported that data for analysis.

The devices were strategically placed at:

  • The Health Science Center
  • The bookstore
  • Wahlstrom Library (two devices)
  • Marina Dining Hall
  • Wheeler Recreation Center

As a final summative assessment in their course, students presented their findings based on their analysis and, in some cases, made recommendations, including adjusting personnel on-shift during busier times and adjusting hours of operation based on times of day that saw the most foot traffic to each building. This is the very type of planning, measurement, analysis, and strategic action that demonstrates the impact a career in Analytics can have – and the value a company like Foot Traffic Stats can bring to small businesses and other organizations.

Foot Traffic Stats plans to continue working with UB students through the foreseeable future. Now that the sensors are in place and the project has started producing data, MS Analytics students in Dr. Baker’s fall class can dive deeper into the data from the very start of next semester.

Foot Traffic Stats hopes to make an impact on the healthcare field as well, helping health clinics understand their patient wait times by using data from their sensors. “Our sensors will allow health clinics to understand how long people are waiting, using accurate data to quantify that without an IT staff and improve the patient experience by adjusting schedules,” says Kuchinski

Frank Kuchinski is on the UB Industry Advisory Board, which is how he first came into contact with UB faculty. “Another use case for our sensors is public transportation,” added Kuchinski. “Our next initiative is focusing on transportation. We want to help city planners plan bus routes based on when people really need transportation. In most cities, you can’t have flexible employment without a car; we hope to change that.”

Kuchinski and Kern highlighted that UB faculty, staff, and students make it effortless for businesses to work with UB. Because of UB faculty and their willingness to change direction to provide students with an opportunity for hands-on, real-world experiences, Foot Traffic Stats was able to undertake the largest demonstration of their product to date, getting them that much closer to production and commercialization.

Preparing Students for Their Future

Thanks to UB’s faculty and their network of colleagues and partners within surrounding communities, opportunities to provide experiential learning experiences are becoming the norm within UB’s career-focused programming — helping graduates enter the workforce prepared with valuable and transferrable skills.

Watch below to learn more about how University of Bridgeport prepares MS Analytics students to be technically-infused business professionals.