Saturday, October 12, 2013

Resilience of Operations Researchers and Raytheon

One of the favorite comments that I received at the recent INFORMS Annual Conference in Minneapolis that I wrote about here and here was from Professor Leon Lasdon of the University of Texas Austin. As he and I were exiting the room where the 2013 INFORMS Fellows Award lunch took place last Monday he said to me: "Anna, we take a licking but we keep on ticking."

I thought that statement was simply perfect and it speaks to the importance of resilience.

Another favorite comment that  I received was  from Professor Michael Florian of the University of Montreal, who is also an INFORMS Fellow and a recipient of the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to transportation science. At the reception at the Transportation Science & Logistics Society business meeting (also last Monday), Florian and I reminisced about Martin Beckmann, (also a Robert Herman Award recipient),  one of the authors of the classic Studies in the Economics of Transportation book, who is in his mid 80s and still going strong.We talked about physical fitness and stamina and, since Florian is a skier, he said to me: "Anna, do you know what happens to skiers? They do not die, they just go downhill."

And, speaking of resiliency, one of my doctoral students, Dong "Michelle" Li, and I arrived back from Minneapolis to Amherst around 1:00AM Wednesday morning and, after only a few hours of sleep, we were off to speak at a Manufacturing Technology Networking event hosted and organized by Raytheon. The event took place at the Tewksbury Country Club (our first time there) and we were so lucky that Mr. James Capistran, the Executive Director of the UMass Innovation Institute, gave us a ride, via gorgeous route 2 with the radiant Fall foliage, in his nice new car with a voice-operated GPS.

Michelle and I were the only invited female speakers so it was essential to show up and to  give our presentations, which we did and we had a great time.Speaking of the serendipity of showing up and the importance of face time, my husband's grad school room-mate in physics at Brown University, who works now at Raytheon,  showed up to see me. What a great surprise it was. My brother also works at Raytheon so the event was extra special. The presentations were by faculty from UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, RPI, MIT, and WPI.  So many knowledgeable techies and geeks were at the Raytheon event so the questions were great. There were two parallel sessions, and my chairman also spoke in a set of sessions parallel to ours. There were about 200 attendees, which also included suppliers and Raytheon personnel even from Arizona and California.

My presentation was on "Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma." In my presentation,  I focused on some of the highlights of our latest research including findings reported in our book "Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products."

Michelle's presentation was on "A Dynamic Network Oligopoly Model with Transportation Costs, Product Differentiation, and Quality Competition." Her talk was based on our paper of the same name, which is now in press in the journal Computational Economics.
We managed to get a few photos taken during some of the breaks and during my presentation.

Thanks to Raytheon for a very special workshop!