Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Great INFORMS Student Chapter at UMass Amherst

The student officers of the UMass Amherst INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) emailed me the above photo of the student chapter bulletin board, which they designed to highlight our activities, and which is hanging on the first floor of the Isenberg School of Management. The photo reached me this morning in Sweden, where I am spending a good part of my sabbatical this year (and loving it).

As the Faculty Advisor of this student chapter, I have helped the students identify speakers this year and suggest additional academic activities. They have also been terrific at organizing social activities -- our end of the semester parties with international cuisine are not to be missed and are wonderful community events.

This year, we have had outstanding speakers come to the Isenberg School because of the initiatives of the UMass INFORMS Student Chapter. We have been highlighting our PhD alums since they serve as wonderful role models for our students. We learned about consulting and analytics from Dr. Davit Khachatryan of Price Waterhouse Coopers, who is based in Arlington, Virginia.  From Professor James Benneyan of Northeastern University, who was also supported, in part, by the great INFORMS Speakers Program, we learned about engineering and health care. Professor Jose M. Cruz of the School of Business at UCONN (who was a former doctoral student of mine) spoke about finding an academic job and getting tenure. Most recently, Professor Tina Wakolbinger, who was also a former doctoral student of mine at the Isenberg School, and is now a Full Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, spoke on information systems and electronic recycling. She was the "first" President of our Student Chapter, when it got revitalized back in 2004 and was a co-author of the best practices guide. For her hard work, she received the Judith Liebman Award from INFORMS and I was recognized with the Moving Spirit Award from INFORMS.

I also had the pleasure of giving a talk on supply chains through the Computational Social Sciences Initiative at UMass Amherst, which the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter supported.

Another very successful activity this past Fall was prepping for the INFORMS Conference in Phoenix at which students presented their papers for practice and shared their research with others. Soon, the students are hoping to set up a panel of faculty and students to provide advice on finding an academic job.

The students in the chapter come from the Isenberg School of Management, the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, as well as other schools and departments at UMass Amherst. officers get tremendous leadership experience and it is essential to have good, creative officers for the success of a student chapter.

 For those of you interested in starting or reinvigorating a chapter, you should definitely read the guide.

More information on INFORMS Student Chapters can be found on this INFORMS webpage.