Anheuser-Busch lab taps into campus talent

The world’s largest brewer will be opening its first permanent residence on a university campus at the University Research Park.

Anheuser-Busch InBev will open its “Bud Lab,” a data analytics center, sometime this month.

Director Rafael Pinterich will oversee the lab, selecting and implementing real-world experimental problems and also working closely with students. Bud Lab researchers will focus on developing data research and innovation to find creative solutions to programs ranging from assortment optimization, social media and market trends to large scale data initiatives, according to a press release.

“This campus … is known for a history of having innovation in big data and data analytics,” said Laura Bleill, assistant director of external relations at the Research Park. “Some campuses are good at engineering, some campuses are good at business, some campuses are good at stats … this University has all those things wrapped in one together.”

Different students and faculty will have access to the lab, with faculty working mainly as consultants for the students. Anheuser-Busch is also offering paid internships to select students across different majors and will have recruiters at different job fairs on campus this year, Bleill said.

“One of the things about opening an operation here is that it provides both students and the company with a year-round work environment,” Bleill said. “Students come and work in the summer and then they can stay working year-round in a part-time capacity.”

The Research Park currently houses 15 major corporations along with many other minor companies. The State Farm Research and Development Center employs the most students, but companies including Neustar, Abbott, Dow Chemical, John Deere and Caterpillar also work with students and faculty at the park.

“The reason that (these main corporations) are here is to tap into the talent that is here, both for students and faculty,” Bleill said.

Citing Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s visit to Anheuser-Busch’s operations in Brazil, Bleill explained that bringing major corporations’ operations takes “a lot of effort and time by a lot of people from all different areas of the University.”

Laura Vallis, director of Global External Communications for AB InBev, said the company worked with students this summer on two key projects with four summer interns from the statistics and industrial engineering disciplines. The first project focused on social media data analysis and the second was related to optimizing service to drive sales.

“As a leader in the field of data analytics, the University of Illinois was a perfect fit for our needs,” Vallis said. “We are very excited about Bud Lab … Our presence on campus also allows us to tap into the leading edge of innovation and research in these fields.”

Bleill emphasized this lab as a success for the University, and University spokesman Tom Hardy agrees.

“(The lab) is further proof of the excellence of the Urbana campus and the value it provides, and when any of our campuses succeed in the many ways they do, it accrues to the benefit of the entire U of I system,” Hardy said.

Brittany can be reached at [email protected]