Accomplishments and Activities

Although teaching an annual 4/4 course keeps me busy, I make time to do more. Here’s a list of my extracurricular activities as a professor of which I’m especially proud.

Continued Writing, Research, and Publications

Soon after my first semester concluded, I began working on Analytics: The Agile Way. My boss—the department chair—assured me that I could use the book in my analytics course. I started writing in earnest in early March of 2017 and finished the manuscript by the end of the month. (For more on my motivations for writing the book, click here.)

Wiley published the text in June of 2017—just in time for the summer session of the course.

Beyond my most recent book, I continue to contribute frequently to different websites. Here is my latest from HBR and I chime in at least once per month on the SAS Data Roundtable.

Course Redesign, Development, and Content Creation

I completely retooled the in-person version of the analytics capstone course (CIS450). I developed ten in-class exercises that promote active learning. Thanks to those and plenty of real-world case studies, by and large students have responded positively.

Beyond that, I developed the seven-week online version of the course based in large part on Analytics: The Agile Way. I recorded 34 lectures and created all of the quizzes, YellowDig content, assignments, and rubrics.

Phil has significantly updated the analytics capstone course over the past two years. Specifically, he restructured CIS450 around an Agile approach to problem solving via analytics. As a result, the course is now a lot stronger and more relevant to the major.

—Dr. Hina Arora, clinical assistant professor and chair of analytics curriculum-review committee

Media Appearances

It turns out that reporters sometimes want to talk to professors. Who’d have thunk it? Here are some of my most prominent mentions since becoming a college professor:

Learning New Technologies and Applications

In December of 2017, I decided that it was time for me to up my Python game. Up until that point, I had known a decent amount about what the popular general-use programming language could do. Still, I never really rolled up my sleeves and started coding. Why not use my break to finally give it a shot?

Fast forward three weeks. I certainly didn’t qualify as a proper data scientist, but I knew much more about Python than I did two years ago.

It turns out that my continued quest for knowledge paid dividends pretty quickly. For one, I was able to better answer some of my analytics students’ more technical questions. Beyond that, in the fall of 2018, I started teaching four sections of CIS236: Introduction to Information Systems (Honors). In that course, I cover many topics, including two weeks of (you guessed it) Python. Click here to see a simple program that I wrote with a hat tip to Breaking Bad.

I also upped my game with Tableau and taught myself Microsoft PowerBI. 

Beyond adding a few new technical arrows to my quiver, I’ve read a bunch of books about the challenges confronting higher ed. There’s no doubt that colleges and universities face a number of obstacles these days—especially due to shrinking state budgets. What better way to prepare for them than by feeding by brain?

Get busy living or get busy dying.

—Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

Helping Dozens of Organizations Improve their Technology and Analytics Efforts

Because of the way that I conducted my capstone classes, my students and I helped dozens of organizations through semester-long capstone projects. Sure, when I started, I was able to take advantage of some of ASU’s existing relationships with local organizations. Unfortunately, the increasing size of my classes meant that I had to find most of these independently.

I am proud to have cultivated dozens of new relationships that led to many meaningful projects. I relied upon:

As I know from personal experience, finding rewarding projects for my students isn’t easy—particularly in the analytics realm. Many senior leaders at organizations are justifiably squeamish about handing over their data to a bunch of students whom they don’t know. Still, I was able to offer my students a minimum of four project choices each semester and sometimes twice that number. 

Supervising Students’ Honors Theses and Projects

As part of Barrett (ASU’s Honors College), I have supervised a number of individual and group student theses and projects. I enjoy being able to guide my students’ work, challenge them, and offer valuable feedback.

Additional Teaching

I have taught both capstone courses during the summers of 2016 and 2017.

External Events: Speaking Appearances and Career Fairs

I have appeared at several Phoenix-based events representing ASU, some of which you can view here. I have given a few talks to different departments at ASU. I also have represented the W. P. Carey School of Business at several career fairs.

Other ASU Events

Yes, I spend much of my time in and around the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Department of Information Systems in particular. Still, I consider my research and interests interdisciplinary in nature. To this end, I reach out to other schools at ASU—and respond when they reach out to me.

For instance, I spoke at the Fulton School of Engineering on The Age of the Platform as part of the Live @Generator Labs series. (See the video on the right.) I also appeared at ASA DataFest as a mentor. Think of it as a hackathon for data.

So what does a good teacher do? Create tension—but just the right amount.

—Donald Norman

Successful Project Management

I managed a seven-month engagement with one of ASU’s largest clients. Chemonics is a large multinational non-profit organization that faced significant data and logistics issues. With a small team of my best students, we built a Microsoft SQL Server database in Azure and an Access-based dashboard/front end.

Although the project was challenging, we came in 40 percent under budget and ahead of schedule. (As I know from a decade of working on these types of projects, that is a rarity in the IT world.) What’s more, my team delivered far more functionality than the client had originally requested. In September of 2018, Chemonics announced that the project won an innovation award from USAID. Click here to learn more about the project.

Committee and Department Committee Service

I have faithfully served on the following undergraduate sub-committees at ASU:

  • Computer Information System (CIS) program
  • Business Data Analytics (BDA) program

What’s more, I served as the course coordinator for both the CIS and BDA capstone courses (CIS440 and CIS450, respectively) from 2016 until 2018.

Phil Simon is a great professor. He is an engaging lecturer with a talent to make any topic interesting. He made great efforts to accommodate students’ needs and was always willing to help. It was a sincere privilege to be taught by such an accomplished and knowledgable man.

—Eri Koroli, former student

Providing Feedback on ASU’s Tech-Related Initiatives

In my time at ASU, I have built a reputation as a tech-savvy professor. As a result, it’s not uncommon for folks to solicit my feedback. I’m happy to oblige. Several times I provided input on the direction of Pitch—ASU’s since-abandoned attempt to create a Slack equivalent. I suppose that I was in a unique position, as I’m one of few professors in the business school who uses Slack in the classroom.

I also volunteered as the first professor in my department to adopt Canvas. For a long time, ASU used Blackboard as its learning management system (LMS). In the summer of 2018, I made the jump and provided valuable feedback to our instructional designers.

Blogging about Higher Education

I read a great deal about issues related to my new field. Because I’m a sponge, eventually I bet that I’ll write a book about my new profession. In the interim, I’ve penned dozens of posts about higher education. From my site statistics, I know that these observations aren’t falling on deaf ears. The Chronicle has linked to a fair number of my musings.

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