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For the second year in a row, and the third since the club’s formation, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) at Northeastern was one of the schools awarded the Student Chapter Cum Laude Award.
The club, which had 72 members in 2016, has grown to 273 graduate students who are pursuing degrees in fields such as Industrial Engineering, Operations Research, Engineering Management, Information Systems and Data Analytics Engineering. Club President, Ann Suhaimi, a PhD candidate in Industrial Engineering originally from Malaysia, is proud of how the club has grown and the success they’ve had to win the award.
“INFORMS is the world’s largest professional society for practitioners in the field of operations research, management science and analytics,” said Suhaimi. “The Student Chapter Cum Laude Award INFORMS acknowledges the achievements of our student chapter, and motivates us to keep promoting the work of Operations Research (O.R) and Analytics. O.R. is a tool or a technique that employs mathematical models to find solutions to complex problems. With analytics, we not only solve complex problems, we provide insights for organizations to make better decisions in improving lives and businesses. The work of O.R. and analytics optimizes mail delivery routes to help with how you order things online, so you can get your order the next day, or even on the very same day. For me, I always find the long waiting lines at theme parks like Disney an interesting problem. With O.R. and analytics, you not only try to minimize the waiting lines, but you also try to make sure visitors don’t feel they are waiting that long as there are other interesting things to see or do while waiting.”
The club, advised by Professor Ozlem Ergun, mechanical and industrial engineering, engages in many different activities, such as organizing events. Their recent webinars had speakers from Microsoft and Booz Allen Hamilton, whereas through events such as "Optimize your Connection", Ph.D. students can meet personally with the speakers to ask questions and discuss their research work or get advice for their future career plan. The club also engages in charitable work, entitled ‘Pro-bono Analytics’, which was originally founded by INFORMS to help local nonprofits solve data-related issues.
“One of the projects we worked on was a scheduling problem for an after-school program in Roxbury. They had a budget cut and wanted to see how they could schedule a time table for the students with less money available,” said Suhaimi. They don’t have the skills to do these analytically, so we have several groups of students working on them.”
One of the biggest aspects of the club is to gain real-world experience, whether it is getting involved on these sorts of programs or becoming program managers for the events that are set up and run by the club. At the 2018 INFORMS Annual Meeting, which takes place in Phoenix, Arizona, the Northeastern Student Chapter will be one of the many student organizations recognized for their hard work, as well as many presentations and sessions, one of which will be led by Suhaimi and her adviser, Dr. Jackie Griffin.
While INFORMS has a big campus presence, with other universities such as the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Northwestern University being honored with the Cum Laude award, there are many professional chapters for postgraduate professionals, including one in Boston. For those looking to join on campus, the club is always looking for more members.
“We publish our events in a weekly newsletter to our members and if they would like to know more about us, they can follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or they can email us to be part of our newsletter mailing list,” said Suhaimi. “Our weekly meeting runs almost every Wednesday at 5 p.m.”