Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Road Trip to the Boston INFORMS Chapter Meeting

Yesterday, while many were starting their journeys home for the Thanksgiving holidays via plane, train, bus, or auto, a group of my students (graduate and even an undergraduate one) joined me in traveling to my talk at the Boston INFORMS Chapter meeting.

We hired a van from UMass Transit, which came with a terrific chauffer, named Andrew, who drove us from the Isenberg School via Route 2 to the venue for the meeting, Emptoris, which is in Burlington, MA. We met at 4PM and arrived at our destination, even with a pitstop, in less than 2 hours.

My host, Dr. Les Servi of the MITRE Corporation, greeted everyone with stacks of pizza and refreshments at the reception, which began at 6:30PM, introduced the Boston Chapter and highlighted its upcoming activities. We are very excited that UMass Amherst will be the site for the Regional INFORMS conference, which will take place May 5-6, 2011. Dr. Servi is a program co-chair of the conference and I have agreed to serve on the program committee. My colleague, Dr. Hari Balasubramanian of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at UMass Amherst, is the conference chair. The tentative theme of the conference is: From Theory to Practice with the goal being of having 50-50 participation by industry practitioners and academics, which would be fantastic.

Dr. Servi and I go back to Brown University days, since we both received undergrad and Master's degrees in Applied Math there (he then went on to Harvard and I got my PhD at Brown) and we are very active members of the professional society INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences).

My presentation was entitled: "Supply Chain Networks: Challenges and Opportunities from Analysis to Design," and it may be downloaded (in pdf format) here. The presentation gave an overview of some of the exciting supply chain projects that we have been involved in with applications ranging from electric power supply chains in New England to healthcare supply chains for critical needs products, from vaccines to medicines, as well as blood supply chains.

It was terrific to mingle with the audience, which included practitioners from many different industries in the Boston area. I enjoyed talking with employees of Oracle, BAE Systems, and Fidelity Investments after my presentation. Time was too short, though, and Andrew, our driver, was waiting for us. We made it back safely to Amherst at 10:30PM.

Happy Thanksgiving!