INFORMS News: Air Force Academy’s O.R. program saluted

Jack Levis of UPS (far left) and Prize Committee Chair Robin Lougee (far right) congratulate the USAF Academy.

The U.S. Air Force Academy won the 2017 UPS George D. Smith Prize for its operations research (O.R.) program, which prepares graduates to become frontline O.R. practitioners as analysts in the Air Force. The program exposes more than 50 percent of cadets to at least one O.R. course and provides cadets the opportunity to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in O.R. A year-long applied senior capstone serves as the apex of the program, during which teams of cadets consult for military, corporate, local government and nonprofit organizations to address real-world problems.

Organizations that have teamed with the USAF program in the past include DARPA, the Missile Defense Agency, Lockheed Martin, Walmart and the Healing Warriors Program.

Named in honor of the late UPS Chief Executive Officer – a champion of operations researchers at a leading Fortune 500 corporation – the UPS George D. Smith Prize is created in the spirit of strengthening ties between industry and the schools of higher education that graduate young practitioners of operations research. The prize is awarded to an academic department or program for effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research or analytics.

“By teaming with a variety of organizations to provide its students access to real-world data and problem-solving opportunities, the Air Force Academy stands out among other academic institutions in its dedication to preparing graduates for success,” said Melissa Moore, executive director of INFORMS. “As the demand for O.R. and analytics professionals continues to rise, it is more important than ever for young professionals to stand out as the top talent. The Air Force Academy’s program makes sure they do.”

The award was presented at the 2017 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research.