Data in Flight: Statistics practicum soars with LabCorp Aviation partnership

This semester, students from STS 4980: Statistics Practicum joined forces with LabCorp Aviation for a unique data analysis project.

Elon University offers a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities. Students can apply what they are learning in the classroom and put their ideas into action through firsthand experiences. One notable experiential opportunity for students unfolded in fall 2023 through a dynamic partnership between Elon’s Statistics Practicum course and LabCorp Aviation.

STS 4980: Statistics Practicum is a capstone course that offers statistics majors real-world opportunities to carry out a statistics or data analytics project for an external organization. Students dedicate most of the semester to working with and providing deliverables for their professional partner. The course was first offered in 2019 and students had the opportunity to work with clients at Hanesbrands, Inc. and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

This year, one team of students, which included Katelyn Litvan ‘24, Hanna Engelhardt ‘24, Hayley Hawkins ‘24 and Sean McDermott ‘25, had the unique opportunity to work on a data analysis project for LabCorp’s Aviation Department. The students were mentored by Assistant Professor of Statistics Mark Weaver.

“This experience with LabCorp was just the practical confidence booster that these students needed as they look forward to their post-Elon careers,” said Weaver. “The team took a difficult problem and delivered a product that was immediately useful, and their LabCorp collaborators were excellent sounding boards and guides through the entire process.”

LabCorp Aviation currently conducts its operations from Burlington-Alamance Airport, where its daily responsibilities involve transporting medical samples for testing through routine air deliveries. The student team of four was tasked with the responsibility of cleaning past flight data and creating a more efficient, structured and automatic approach to generating a daily irregular aviation report.
The students used software such as R Studio, Excel, Tableau, and JotForm to clean the data, automate the cleaning process, and create an interactive data visualization dashboard.
“Working with LabCorp this semester was amazing!” Hawkins said. “I learned so much about Tableau and data visualization by working with LabCorp’s analytics experts. Being able to see the direct impact of our work was so rewarding.”

Throughout the semester, the team met weekly with their collaborators at LabCorp to discuss projects and ask questions.

“The project gave me the opportunity to take what I had learned in R from the STS 3470 class at Elon and apply to cleaning the data for LabCorp Aviation,” McDermott said. “The project gave me the confidence to know that I have the knowledge from my classes at Elon to solve real world problems.”

During the last week of November, students were invited to LabCorp’s hangar at the Burlington-Alamance Airport to present their final project and tour the facilities. Throughout the semester, the students learned valuable professional skills such as time management, organization, and how to collaborate with people with different skills to make a finished product. The students also got to form connections with their LabCorp collaborators and experience firsthand how to communicate with clients and people outside of their academic bubble.

“Engaging in hands-on professional development, setting goals, and meeting timelines, the experience was nothing short of transformative,” Engelhardt said. “The LabCorp team’s unwavering support and eagerness to facilitate our learning made this partnership an unparalleled journey in honing in on my skills as a Statistics Major.”

STS 4980: Statistics Practicum offers all students with a background in statistics or data analysis the chance to put their skills to use outside of the classroom, and to have a semester-long experiential learning opportunity that stretches beyond Elon’s campus.