Roland Acra

The Roland H. Acra '86 Master of Science in Analytics Award was established in 2013 by Roland H. Acra to provide an award annually upon May graduation to the student(s) producing the most outstanding master's project in analytics completed in the previous academic year in the Department of Statistics in the College of Science at Texas A&M University.

Roland Acra, currently serves as Executive Consultant for Predictive Analytics and Data Strategy for CEO's, Boards, and Senior Executives of several successful companies in industry, as well as serving academia. Mr. Acra has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Arch Rock Corporation (acquired by Cisco) from December 2005-September 2010, delivering cutting-edge energy monitoring and analytics solutions with low-power sensor networks.

Mr. Acra previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Procket Networks, Inc., a high-end Core Internet Router manufacturer since January, 2004, which he successfully led to an acquisition by Cisco Systems. Prior to that, he spent 13 years with Cisco Systems where he held several senior management positions during the period from 1991 to 2003, including Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Service Provider Group, Group Vice President and General Manager of the Public Carrier IP Group, General Manager of the Remote Access Business Unit, and Technical Director of Cisco in EMEA.

Prior to joining Cisco Systems, Mr. Acra developed UNIX subsystems as a technical lead at Interphase, and held engineering development and technical leadership positions at Bridge Communications and 3Com Corporation from 1986 to 1988 and at Interphase Corporation from 1989 to 1991.

Mr. Acra serves on the MS Analytics Advisory Board for the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University since 2013. Mr. Acra holds a Master of Science degree in Statistics from Texas A&M University, a Master's degree in Engineering from the Ecole Nationale Superierue des Telecommunications in Paris and a degree in mathematics and physics from Ecole Polytechnique in Paris.

2018 Recipients:

Diego Molinari

Diego is a petroleum engineer with eight years of international oil and gas industry experience. In his current role, he is part of Anadarko's Advanced Analytics and Emerging Technologies (AAET) team, helping the company adopt data analytics and develop digital technologies to operate more efficiently. Diego has wide working reservoir engineering and data analytics experience, having developed projects in the major unconventional basins in the USA, as well as international experience, having developed assignments in Europe, Canada, Latin America and the Middle East.
Diego was born in Venezuela from an immigrant Italian family, he is happily married, speaks three languages, and loves to travel every time he has a chance. He just completed an MS Analytics degree from Texas A&M University, his second masters degree after an MS in Petroleum Engineering from Politecnico di Torino in Italy. He earned his BS in Petroleum Engineering from Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Marek Danis

After finishing my undergraduate degrees at Getttysburg College and Columbia University in STEM fields, I have joined Schlumberger as a leading technology company. I was running field operations in the drilling domain, which was very interesting but having to do more with project management than technology. I was missing the scientific factor. That is why I decided to join the MS Analytics program at Texas A&M University and found this to be the right step. My capstone project was about workplace safety, which doesn’t sound very scientific, but the professors showed us a way how to tackle any business problem, technical or not, in a scientific, data-driven way, with empirically proven results.

Using this information combined with operational data, I was able to generate a forward-looking model, which determines which locations have a high risk of having an accident in the next month. This way, the safety function is able to focus on a subset of roughly 10% of locations that are determined one month in advance, to target and eliminate more than half of the accidents.

2017 Recipients:


Aaron Rubinstein

Aaron Rubinstein works for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, one of the world's leading independent oil and gas operators. At Anadarko, Aaron leads large-scale initiatives focused on optimizing technology, business processes, and analytics for the company's global supply chain operations. Aaron has held a variety of leadership roles across supply chain, procurement, finance, and technology functions, both within and outside the oil and gas industry. He is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California Santa Cruz.
For his capstone project, Aaron built a time-series model to predict spot-market prices for drilling rig contracts, which represent a significant component of his company's capital budget. Rig pricing is dynamic and continually fluctuates based on market conditions. Previously, his company did not have a method for forecasting prices, nor did any of the external market analysis services that they utilize. Consequently, projections about future prices were often made based on judgmental assumptions, or a naive forecasting approach was utilized which simply assumed that current prices would hold indefinitely.
To construct a statistical forecast Aaron used transfer functions to model the effect of various market variables on rig prices. His final model produced a five-month forecast that was within 1% of the actual prices over the time period. Furthermore, the model was able to predict the occurrence of a critical inflection point in market prices three months before it occurred, and was able to accurately forecast the exact month in which it would occur.
The insight that this model provides will enable Anadarko to optimize their contracting strategies and better manage their costs. It will also improve the accuracy of their budgeting and financial planning processes. Lastly, the general approach and methodology to building this type of model is transferable across a number of strategic cost categories, therefore the project has provided them with a general framework for developing more sophisticated forecasts

Jeff Westenhaver

Jeff Westenhaver is a solutions-driven professional with progressive sales and marketing experience, as well as, extensive customer experience in information technology. Jeff has broad experience across multiple industries both in large and small organizations, including Exxon, Hitachi Data Systems, BMC Software, and go-ESI. Continual leadership positions enabled Jeff to develop impeccable strategic planning, sales enablement, international marketing, partner marketing, and partner management skills. Jeff persistently strengthens relationships with clientele and does so with inspiring energy. Jeff earned his MS Analytics degree from Texas A&M University, his Bachelors in Computer Science and BA in Russian Area Studies he earned from SMU.
His project, Text Analysis of IT Hardware Device Problems, is based on the large amounts of data related to each reported incident problem which is routinely collected by organizations from various industries. Most of the data are structured and include variables regarding the who, what, where, and when of the incident. Additional data are collected and kept in unstructured text fields; for example, problem descriptions and problem resolution descriptions that are updated throughout the lifecycle of the incident. His project demonstrated that performing text analysis of the unstructured text fields provides significant additional information that can lead to better understanding of the incident, it's circumstances, and the customer's sentiment.

2016 Recipient:


Michael Davidson

Mike Davidson is Data Science Manager at Southwestern Energy. He has over 15 years of experience in the energy industry with roles as a geophysical specialist and R&D project manager. He began his career with Fugro in Pert, Australia and joined ConocoPhillips in 2007; he is now based in Houston, TX.
His current role involves multi-disciplinary data integration, from the subsurface and surface, at many scales, through to economic optimization. Mike has a BSc in applied Mathematics from University of Western Australia and an MS in Analytics from Texas A&M.

2015 Recipients:


Bora Tarhan

Bora received a double major Bachelor of Science degree from Bogazici University, Istanbul in 2004. His majors were in Chemical Engineering and Industrial Engineering. After a short start-up business experience after college, he pursued a PhD in Chemical Engineering in Carnegie Mellon University. In 2009, Bora joined ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company as a research engineer. Over the last 6 years, he worked in several analytics and optimization projects, focusing primarily on decision making under uncertainty and supply chain optimization. In 2015, Bora completed his MS in Analytics and as a part of his current role he is actively looking at high value analytics opportunities in upstream oil and gas. Bora is the author of several patents and papers for peer-reviewed international journals.


Steve Bowden

For more than 25 years, Steve Bowden has been leveraging analytical solutions to improve business processes and drive profitability. In 1988, Steve began his career at Sprint in Kansas City leading a team of analysts responsible for the identification and resolution of major billing system defects. By 1998, he was responsible for all credit, collections and fraud strategies -- including the design and management of all scoring models and expert systems. During his tenure at Sprint, Bowden was responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in bottom-line P&L improvement.
In 2000, Bowden moved to Napa, California to lead all direct marketing efforts for Robert Mondavi Corporation where he installed operational and analytical platforms leading to $5MM in annual direct sales in less than 5 years. In 2005 Bowden started a niche consultancy focused on leverage analytical methods to increase direct-to-consumer wine sales after the landmark Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court decision opened up interstate wine shipping across the United States. In 2010, Bowden was appointed Vice President of Consumer Sales & Marketing for Sequoia Grove Winery where he increased profitability six-fold in just over 4 years.
Bowden lives in Napa, CA with his wife and daughter where they enjoy hiking, camping and cooking. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from Kansas State University, an MBA from the University of Kansas and a Master of Science in Analytics from Texas A&M University.