The Sports, Society, and Technology (SST) minor, housed in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of History and Sociology, offers innovative teaching experiences to students from a variety of disciplines, which includes learning opportunities both in and outside of the classroom.
Morissa Chen and Ilesh Jain, two SST and Industrial Engineering undergraduates, recently benefited from the program’s support for real-world learning after funding from Professor Johnny Smith allowed them to attend the influential MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
“As an Industrial Engineering student, I saw the conference as an opportunity to better understand the current use of Analytics in the industry and gauge the future direction of this field,” Chen siad. “Having watched videos of panels from the conference in past years, I knew that this conference attracted industry leaders and covered a breadth of exciting topics.”
Funding for the conference was made available through Smith’s Julius C. “Bud” Shaw Professorship, which provides support for research and a variety of activities connected with the SST undergraduate minor, including expanded internship opportunities.
Chen and Jain were able to attend important panels, such as a conversation from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who spoke about the importance of athlete mental health, and a conversation with influential writers David Epstein and Malcolm Gladwell who spoke about their conflicting theories on the nature vs. nurture influence on sports performance.
“I knew by attending this conference, I would be able to hear about and meet people from all disciplines, ranging from analytics (of course) to social justice, sports performance to sports entrepreneurship, and just about everything in between,” Jain said.
In addition, the students attended professional networking opportunities such as a resume review workshop and a women’s networking lunch.
“It was a privilege to have Dr. Smith sponsor this experience as it was very insightful and inspiring... While Georgia Tech has no shortage of career advancement resources on campus, it was definitely valuable to get career advice specific to the sports industry,” Chen said.
The conference is only one of many unique student learning activities offered in the SST program, which exposes students to sports in the context of historical and contemporary culture in order to help them become well-informed leaders in the sports and health industries.