Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Great Time at the Amazon Supply Chain Optimization Summit in Seattle

This past Sunday and Monday I had the pleasure, with 33 other invited faculty from around the globe, to take part in the 1st Amazon Supply Chain Optimization Summit in Seattle. There were 4 female faculty that took part. Universities represented included, among others: MIT, Stanford, CMU, Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, UPenn, Cornell, Columbia, U. of Washington, U. of Colorado, U. of Florida, and several universities in Canada, Italy, and Brazil, and., of course, UMass Amherst!

The hospitality extended to us was outstanding with lodging at the Inn at WAC (Washington Athletic Club) in downtown Seattle, a tour of a fulfillment center about an hour outside of downtown., complete with the largest robotic arm in the US and Kiva robots, dinner at the Museum of Natural History in Seattle, and a full day of talks and discussions with lunch and snacks provided!

I was most impressed by the Amazon staff and researchers that we met, known as "Amazonians." Would you believe that Amazon has about 300 PhDs in Operations Research working for the company, 50 PhDs in economics, 50 on machine learning, to start!

I was also very impressed by the push into sustainability started about 1 year ago and the drive to be customer-focused and to provide products the quickest AND the cheapest.  I spoke with PhDs in Computer Science, Math, OR, and even Material Science, who is focusing on packaging optimization. The push to innovate and use the latest in technology, models, and algorithms was very inspiring.

Below are a few photos from Seattle - we were lodged very close to Pike's Market so Sunday morning after lots of flying the day before I could get some nie long walks in before our tour of the fulfillment center.

 Immediately above in the photo are my great colleagues, Dr. Mauricio Resende of Amazon,  Dr. Oleg Prokopyev of the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Sergiy Butenko, all great optimizers, at the Museum of Natural History event in Seattle. Dr. Resende joined Amazon about 10 months ago from AT&T.

Below I am standing with Dr. Greg Duncan, the Chief Economist at Amazon, who was one of our speakers, and who had worked with my good INFORMS colleagues before at GTE and Verizon - Dr. Les Servi and Roger Tobin. His PhD committee at UC Berkeley included Dan McFadden and George Akerlof, both Nobel laureates in Economic Sciences.
 Many thanks to Amazon for such a stimulating Supply Chain Optimization Summit. I am sure that there will continue to be opportunities for collaboration.

And after landing yesterday in Bradley Airport I was greeted by a rainbow - simply perfect!