Childhood Dream Comes True Teaching Analytics, Statistics

Kivanç Avrenli has been a professor of practice at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management for five years, but he is still just as enthusiastic about being a part of the faculty as he was on his first day. Avrenli continues to pursue his passions through teaching multiple courses, research and hobbies. 

Avrenli grew up in Turkey and earned his first two degrees at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Formerly known as Robert College, it was the first American college established outside of the United States. As an undergraduate, Avrenli studied civil engineering, and then, for his first master’s degree, he studied transportation and highway engineering. He later moved to the United States and continued his education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning a master’s degree in statistics and a Ph.D. in civil engineering. He focused on commercial aviation and statistics for his Ph.D., which he still researches today.

Being a part of a faculty has been a long-time goal. “I always wanted to be a teacher. From childhood; that was my dream. I wanted to teach at the university level,” Avrenli says, adding that although he studied engineering, business schools had more of what he was looking for in terms of being a professor.

Aside from teaching, a second part of what drew him to the Whitman School was his wish to live somewhere with four distinct seasons. He shares, “I knew about Syracuse before I came here because I knew it is one of the snowiest major cities in the United States. I was always jealous of that!” 

Avrenli currently teaches introductory statistics, business analytics and financial analytics — his favorite, as he finds this upper-division course very applicable to real-world scenarios. He also will be teaching students in the school’s new undergraduate business analytics program. 

Avrenli applies his unique teaching style to better solidify the content with students. “I try to make my presentations as compelling as possible,” he says. “I show them in such a way that they look like cartoons. So instead of intimidating students with numbers or formulas, I make them look entertaining, so that even the most intimidating subjects look more tempting.” 

He is also involved in research. “I did some simulated experiments at PANAM aviation academy recently, so I’m working on that project now,” he says. The work includes assessing the engines and gliding performance of Boeing 737 aircrafts. Avrenli studies how the planes will perform if they were to lose all engine power — similar to what happened with US Airways Flight 1549, which lost all engine power and had to land in the Hudson River. 

Outside of Whitman, Avrenli enjoys travel, usually to hunt for the northern lights. “So far, I’ve seen them five times, on five different trips,” he shares. “Hopefully, I’ll continue to do so, as long as I’m healthy and young enough.”

In the meantime, he’ll continue his adventures at the Whitman School — entertaining his students with numbers, furthering his research and continuing to fulfill his dream as a professor.

Learn more about Whitman faculty members in the latest faculty profiles.

Mallory Carlson
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