Friday, March 25, 2016

Cybersecurity Workforce Optimization

This afternoon we had the great honor and pleasure of hosting INFORMS Fellow Dr. Les Servi of the MITRE Corporation who spoke in the UMass Amherst  INFORMS Speaker Series, which is organized by our magnificent UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter.

Dr. Servi has two degrees in Applied Math from Brown University and a PhD in Engineering from Harvard. He has had a terrific career, having worked at Bell Labs, GTE (now Verizon), MIT Lincoln Labs, and now MITRE.  He is a champion of Operations Research and our professional society INFORMS and he is a good friend. Les is the Group Leader of the Decision Analytics Group at MITRE. (A disclaimer - he hosted me for my talk at MITRE on March 14).

Joining Les were: Brian Kulig, who is a UMass Amherst alum, and also Ken Kato, both of MITRE.

I hosted the lunch in his honor at the University Club, where the service was great and the food very good. We arrived at 11:30AM to make sure that we would have enough time to eat before his talk at the Isenberg School at 2PM. Joining us were Associate Dean of Engineering Tilman Wolf, Professor Eric Sommers of Math/Stats, and Professor Weibo Gong, of ECE, who shared the same advisor at Harvard with Les - Dr. Ho, who is still publishing at age 82.
The Title of Les's talk was: A Two-Stage Stochastic Shift Scheduling Model for Cybersecurity Workforce Optimization with On Call Options.

We took a photo when we arrived at the Isenberg School for his talk.

His presentation was very interesting and clear. He explained both stochastic programming and column generation in a very accessible way. I was very impressed and intrigued by the possibilities of Operations Research and Optimization in workforce optimization in this challenging sector. The model was for scheduling over a two week period three shifts of workers with quite interesting constraints and uncertain demand with the option of calling in more workers. The three classes of cyber workers included an expert group (which someone caught did not want to work the night shift).  He even compared the results of the stochastic model with a deterministic model and presented quite extensive computational results.

I was very pleased that, although it was a holiday weekend, the audience had undergraduate students, PhD students from Engineering, Math, and the Isenberg School, and even MBA students. Two of the latter have internships at MITRE in Bedford this summer, so the talk was perfectly timed.
And, as always happens after a great presentation, the audience members enjoy milling around, sampling refreshments, networking, and chatting.

Afterwards, I was very pleased that Professor Brian Levine of our Computer Science Department, who is the Director of the new Cybersecurity Institute at UMass Amherst, and the PI on the $4.2 million NSF Scholars for Service (SFS) grant, could meet with Les and MITRE colleagues in my office.

Les has spoken in our series multiple times and he always impresses, whether he is speaking on tracking pirates, extracting information and emotions from social media, including Twitter, or on cybersecurity workforce optimization!

In April, he will be heading u to Montana to investigate research on rural healthcare and then will be off right afterwards to the INFORMS Analytics conference in Orlando!

Many thanks to Dr. Les Servi for coming out to UMass Amherst and speaking in our series today. Special thanks also to MITRE colleagues, Brian Kulig and Ken Kato, for joining in and making the visit very rewarding for students and faculty alike!