MAS Awards salute top O.R. students at service academies

Zachary C. Saunders, Matthew Hughes, Colin E. Bogdan and Jake E. Taylor received this year’s INFORMS Military Applications Society Award as the top operations research student at their respective service academies.

Cadet Saunders, from Knoxville, Tenn., was the winner of MAS Award in the Class of 2014 at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). Four departments – Computer Science, Economics and Geosciences, Management and Mathematical Sciences—co-administer the O.R. major at USAFA.

Zachary C. Saunders
Colin E. Bogdan

Saunders was a Distinguished Graduate (top 10 percent of graduating class), ranking 36th of 995 graduates, and a member of Omega Rho, the national O.R. honor society. He finished with a 3.78 GPA and was on the Dean’s List (academic excellence) during his eight semesters, as well as the Commandant’s List (military excellence) for four semesters and the Athletic Director’s List (athletic excellence) for seven semesters. 

After completing a master’s degree in O.R. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2nd Lt. Saunders will start his career as an Air Force pilot, and he hopes to eventually return to USAFA as a faculty member. 

Cadet Hughes, this year’s MAS Award winner at the United States Military Academy (West Point), was presented the award during ceremonies the day before his graduation from the Academy and his commissioning into the U.S. Army’s Infantry Branch. His outstanding academic work qualified him for a bachelor’s degree with honors.

Matthew Hughes

Hughes’ honors thesis was entitled “Mixed Boundary Analysis with the Complex Variable Boundary Element Method.” His O.R. capstone project was “Geospatial Planning and Decision Aids for the Urban Operational Environment,” where he helped to develop a methodology and GIS tool to enable the warfighter commander to use GIS products to gain better situational awareness and make informed decisions in the context of urban warfare.

In addition, 2nd Lt. Hughes, from Clayton, N.C., was the commander of the USMA Black Knight Drill Team and a member of several professional honor organizations, including Pi Mu Epsilon, Phi Kappa Phi and the Golden Key Honors Society.

2nd Lt. Hughes’ first unit assignment will be with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. In the short term, his goals are to enjoy his Army assignments and become the best platoon leader he can. His long-term goals are to pursue graduate school in operations research and eventually teach mathematics and operations research back at the Academy.

Midshipman Bogdan, from Buffalo, N.Y., was the winner of the MAS Award in the Class of 2014 at the United States Naval Academy. In May 2014 Bogdan was awarded a bachelor of science degree in operations research and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He completed his research project, “Applications of Graph-Theoretic Tests to Online Change Detection,” as a USNA Trident Scholar advised by Cmdr. David M. Ruth.

2nd Lt. Bogdan will begin graduate studies at Tufts University in the fall.

Jake E. Taylor

First Class Cadet Taylor received the MAS Award from Rear Adm. S. Stosz and Capt. M. McGurer at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Taylor took home all three 2014 awards related to academic performance in the Department of Mathematics, including the Dimick Award for highest proficiency in mathematics courses and the Fleet Reserve Award for greatest performance in operations research courses. 

Taylor emerged as the student leader of the group capstone project “District 7 Fast Response Cutter Homeport Allocation,” which used linear optimization techniques to develop an effective homeport configuration for the newly acquired Fast Response Cutter fleet. In addition to winning the Mathematics Department Triple Crown, Taylor was a four-year varsity rower.

Taylor, a native of St. Louis, graduated with high honors from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in May. Upon graduation, he earned a bachelor of science degree in operations research and computer analysis and received his commission as ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard. Taylor is currently stationed on the USCG Cutter FIR in Astoria, Ore., as a deck watch officer. In the short term, he hopes to qualify as underway officer of the deck and climb Mount Rainer. Longer term, Taylor is interested in attending graduate school in mathematics or operation research with a follow-on tour as an instructor in the Mathematics Department at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.