Undergraduate research opens doors for Saunders College of Business graduate

Nathan Raw will apply passion for data science research to new career




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Nathan Raw

University Communications is highlighting a few members of the Class of 2018. See more commencement news at rit.edu/news/commencement.

Nathan Raw considers himself an expert at providing simple answers to complex questions, thanks to the undergraduate research he has done at RIT’s Saunders College of Business. He also believes that his immersion into research led him to his next chapter as an RIT graduate and data scientist for the multinational accountancy powerhouse PricewaterhouseCoopers, in Denver, Colo. 

At PwC, Raw, a fourth-year management information systems major from Canandaigua, N.Y., will be developing machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities that will be highly interpretable and directly applicable to business problems.

“A lot of what I do involves complex math, but honestly, I was never truly a math person in high school,” said Raw. “And frankly, when I came to RIT, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. But I ended up getting involved in data science research thanks to Professor Yang Yu, who is one of my mentors. Once I discovered data science, I instantly became passionate about it. I just can’t stop thinking about it and I can’t stop working on it. I love it.”

Raw says that research “changed the trajectory” of his time at RIT. He is particularly fascinated by Natural Language Processing, which uses artificial intelligence to help computers understand, interpret and manipulate human language. He also says that his unique degree from Saunders College enables him to operate from an applied perspective instead of approaching data science purely from a computing background. According to Raw, he believes that Saunders College’s blend of business and technology has given him an advantage over other job candidates.

“Ultimately, what led me to being hired by PricewaterhouseCoopers is my ability to approach work scenarios with the technology that I have learned as well as a high-level understanding of the businesses needs and bottom line. It’s all connected.”

On campus, Raw is an active member of the Business Technology Professionals Club, the Artificial Intelligence Club and the Management Information Systems Mentorship Club. He also participated in Brick Hack, a Junior Achievement of Rochester program where Saunders students and alumni teach business concepts to Rochester City School District youngsters, and
was an exhibitor at Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival teaching coding to beginners.

Clyde Hull, a professor of management in Saunders College, helped Raw develop his research.

“Nate’s intellectual curiosity takes him far beyond course requirements into independent research, leading him to become an expert on natural language processing and big data in general,” said Hull. “He teaches himself technical skills as he needs them to chase down the answers to questions that few others would even think to ask. It’s been a privilege to be his teacher and to have the chance to give him career advice. I’m proud of where he’s going, and I’m sure that he’s going to keep making us all proud in the years to come.”

While Raw is anxious for a change of scenery and the opportunity to ski the mountains of Colorado, he says that he will miss RIT’s people, culture and academically focused atmosphere.

“I’ve been able to meet a lot of cool people with similar interests, and the students and faculty here aren’t afraid to talk about what excites them,” said Raw. “But most importantly, I’ve never felt like I had to pretend to be someone that I wasn’t.”