History

Graduate consultants working on project

Statistics in the Community (StatCom) is a community outreach organization started at Purdue University's Department of Statistics. Graduate students participating in StatCom volunteer their time to provide free statistical consulting to governmental and nonprofit groups. This could include schools, government agencies, health centers, homeless shelters, libraries, adult learning centers, and other nonprofit agencies. StatCom is directed and staffed primarily by graduate students. Students who participate in StatCom work in teams on community projects, while gaining valuable consulting and communication skills.

Nels Grevstad founded StatCom during the 2001-2002 school year in response to former Purdue President Martin Jischke's call to increase engagement between the University and the Indiana community. StatCom has since provided noteworthy service in the community. Since its foundation in 2001, StatCom at Purdue has assisted over 40 clients, including local city governments, community organizations, and public schools.

One of StatCom's first projects was to help study the impacts of the state tax funding formula on a school district. Another district utilized StatCom services to evaluate and improve one of their intervention programs. Several nonprofit organizations worked with StatCom to design or analyze surveys. Design objectives included reducing nonresponse, simplifying analysis of the results, and gaining a better understanding of the needs of the people they serve.

First STATCOM Network Business Meeting

The first StatCom Network Business Meeting, JSM 2007, Salt Lake City, UT.

StatCom has a unique place in the consulting community at Purdue. While there is some overlap in the areas they cover, there are three main parts of the consulting community that serve specific types of clients. The Statistical Consulting Service (SCS) advises non-profit on-campus clients such as faculty and students on their research projects. The Technical Assistance Program (TAP) serves for-profit off-campus clients such as manufacturers. StatCom serves non-profit off-campus clients.

In 2004, a P-12 Outreach component was added to StatCom with the purpose of increasing the interest in statistics and mathematics among pre-college students. Since its inception, StatCom P-12 Outreach members at Purdue have participated in over 10 educational events, including classroom visits, state fairs, and community festivals. Members develop age-appropriate, hands-on statistics educational activities to present at such events.

More recently, StatCom has grown from a single program at Purdue to an international network of StatCom programs at numerous institutions. In 2006, StatCom was named a Member Initiative for the American Statistical Association (ASA) with the goal of promoting the development of student-driven programs that provide statistical consulting as a community service. As a result of that effort, the StatCom Network was formed as graduate students at several other institutions started their own programs to serve their communities. To learn more about the StatCom Network and how you can start your own StatCom program, please visit the StatCom Network website!