Azure Machine Learning and Power BI are two of the most influential tools out there. I’d like to share a story about how a colleague and I recently completed a project for a public school district in Georgia using these powerful tools.

The purpose of this project was to integrate machine learning and predictive analytics to be able to feed inputs that existed in their data about students such as classes they’d taken, attendance, grades, etc. and use this information to predict the likelihood of high school graduation. The district could then use this to proactively guide students and give them the help they needed.

We used the Auto ML feature in Power BI Premium. My colleague, Brian Custer, oversaw the machine learning model design. Auto ML is a straightforward process in Power BI. All that was needed was to create data using the information we wanted to look at that may have an impact on graduation and then we put this through a wizard in Auto ML. Once we did that, out came a model that was trained and ready to go for prediction.

Machine learning models exist in several different forms and leverage the capabilities that are built into Azure – we have Azure Machine Learning, Python and R, integrations with SQL Server, as well as Auto ML and other features within Power BI.

So, what exactly is Auto ML in Power BI? It’s a wizard driven machine learning interface that works off dataflows. You start off with a dataflow and you must have your training and prediction entities in your dataflow. This is passed to an Auto ML model that you choose and then it automatically trains the model for you and delivers predictions.

This is a very simple pipeline to set up. In our case we simply hooked up to the data that was in Azure Data Lake Gen2 storage and brought it into some SQL tables.

The school district we created this for couldn’t have been happier with the results and they are currently using this machine learning model to help predict the probability of high school graduation and ensure that students in the path of not graduating get the help they need to succeed.

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