Morgan Owdom, GB'18, Capstone Project helps Mid-Atlantic Energy prepare for severe weather

February 28, 2019
As a controller at Woodfin, Morgan Owdom, GB'18, is well versed in what it takes to prepare homes for storms and severe weather.

As a controller at Woodfin, Morgan Owdom, GB’18, is well versed in what it takes to prepare homes for storms and severe weather. So he knew he wanted to work on a Capstone Project in the same field.

“I’ve always been good with numbers,” Owdom said. “I knew I wanted to pursue an analytical topic with my project.”

Owdom specialized his project to use data analytics to make predictions for Mid-Atlantic Energy, a natural gas logistics company, and help them make better decisions as weather changes impact natural gas flows in the region.

“I looked at past weather forecasts in areas of a pipeline, and analyzed how that impacted heating homes across the region,” Owdom said. “For example, when it’s really cold, people need energy quick, so the pipeline gets more use. And that amount ramps up the colder it gets.”

Owdom created regression equations to predict how much energy families would need in certain areas, to help Mid-Atlantic be better prepared when severe weather hits. He used his specific courses in business analytics from The Richmond MBA to make those predictions.

“I really had to follow the numbers, and that’s the approach they wanted,” Owdom said. “They had the industry experience and knowledge behind what they expected to happen, but they wanted more science behind it to guide decisions.”

Then, in his presentation, he had to make the numbers easy to understand, as well as visually appealing for clients.

“You could have spent several semesters just learning about the industry, I had to find that balance to be a good analyst, find the necessary background information, and present it in an engaging way,” Owdom said.

He says the chance to work with a real company that was depending on his feedback gave him a unique perspective of how the energy industry works.

“This was a lot messier than examples I went over in class, so I learned how to deal with those real world scenarios, and that was a really good learning experience,” Owdom said.

Austin McDaniel, GB’15, co-founder of Mid-Atlantic Energy, worked closely with Owdom on the project.

“We've identified data analytics as a strong tool for our customers, especially where large amounts of data with a significant number of variables are at work,” McDaniel said. “With this Capstone Project, we were able to utilize Morgan's background and skills from his graduate studies to focus on developing a visually appealing and usable model to examine the impact of weather on the natural gas flow in one of the regional pipeline systems.”

McDaniel says the company has used Owdom’s findings, and the equation he created, frequently to present information to clients.

“We gained a fantastic visual tool from Owdom, as well as rules of thumb to apply to our high level views and business development efforts. It’s a great tool for showing our clients complex situations on the pipeline system, in an easy to digest format,” McDaniel said.

Overall, McDaniel says working with The Richmond MBA has not only helped them present information to clients, but also made the workload within the organization significantly easier.

“Being able to utilize the Capstone opportunity at the Robins School has been a great experience for the Mid-Atlantic team,” McDaniel said. “We are experts in our field, but there is only so much time in a day to devote time to projects we'd like to pursue. The Capstone Project allows us to have a very talented individual focus on those opportunities alongside us. We look forward to being a longtime friend of The Richmond MBA.”