Student Chapter Highlights

University of Alabama

Established in 2007, the INFORMS Student Chapter at the University of Alabama has a mission to promote interest in the fields of operations management, data analytics, and information systems.  Our chapter provides a unique opportunity for students to work together, share ideas, network, and learn more about industry and academia. Our chapter also organizes training workshops in various programming languages and software. This year, our focus is to broaden our understanding of industry-desired skills because we want our undergraduate and graduate students to feel confident and ready for real-world challenges. To accomplish this goal, we plan to focus on one technical skill area each semester. For example, in the Fall 2017 semester, we used R to communicate data analysis techniques, and through a three-part series, offered our members courses in an Introduction to R, Data Analysis in R, and Machine Learning in R. In addition to these academic offerings, we provide our members the opportunity to network and socialize with their peers and invited speakers. We were lucky to host Dr. Anna Nagurney in November for a presentation about her research, work experience, and the challenges she has had in her professional life. For the upcoming spring semester of 2018, we are organizing more workshops and events in collaboration with other student organizations from the statistics and mathematics departments. We believe expanding our relationships with other societies is essential to our goal of representing the amazing world of operations management to the students at the University of Alabama.

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University of Buffalo

The University at Buffalo INFORMS Student Chapter (UB-INFORMS) put together a range of events in the Fall 2017 semester. Incoming graduate students were welcomed into the program with a reception. The UB-INFORMS group organized the “Game of thORnes,” an Operations Research quiz game designed around the popular TV series to introduce the travelling salesman problem, the knapsack problem, and the Monty Hall problem, among others, and winners received INFORMS merchandise. In a joint event with the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) undergraduate club, a panel of Masters and Ph.D. graduate students with diverse backgrounds was assembled to answer questions for current industrial engineering undergraduates interested in graduate school. The UB-INFORMS Pro-Bono Analytics team is on the verge of completing the first phase of its project with Meals on Wheels for Western New York. The chapter has also hosted workshops by student members on various software (including SQL), research talks, and monthly social events with food for the student body. UB-INFORMS has recently become more active in social media, and a new YouTube channel has been set up to provide videos of workshops and other events.

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Carnegie Mellon University

The INFORMS Student Chapter at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) held the first YinzOR Student Conference on August 26–27, 2017. The name of the conference combines “OR,” the acronym for Operations Research, with "Yinzer," a native or inhabitant of the city of Pittsburgh. The goal of the conference was to convene Ph.D. students from a variety of programs related to OR, such as computer science, math, operations management, and operations research at Carnegie Mellon as well as industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The conference program mixed talks from those departments with keynotes by successful young researchers from academia and industry, who presented their work on disjunctive programming for clustering, online data-driven algorithms for healthcare, and artificial intelligence-beating professional poker players. Besides bridging the gap among students in different departments, the conference also served to welcome the new cohort of Ph.D. students.

Funding and resources for YinzOR were provided by the CMU Activities Fee and the Tepper School of Business.

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Iowa State University

The INFORMS Student Chapter at Iowa State University organized one event this semester. Some of our alumni from the industrial engineering department are working at the Wells Fargo Des Moines office. They visited our department to talk about the applications of operations research and analytics in the banking and finance sector. They also addressed their daily business operations. Through this event, our students (mostly graduate students) learned that there exist many opportunities for industrial engineering professionals. Our graduates tend to apply for industry positions in the non-finance sector, and we hope that our event increased the awareness of opportunities related to banking and finance.

Montreal Operations Research Student Chapter

Since its inauguration in May 2016, the CORS/INFORMS Montreal Operations Student Chapter has worked tirelessly towards creating a tight-knit operations research student community.  Our values are based on three pillars: knowledge sharing, work/life balance, and diversity.

With respect to knowledge sharing, we created series of joint student research seminars, software tutorials, distinguished speaker presentations, speed-networking sessions, and academic writing workshops to aid students in developing and polishing the technical and soft skills they need to succeed. We also compiled an online repository of resources (www.mtl-students.com/archive) for students to learn on their own time and at their own pace.

In our effort to foster a culture of work/life balance, we organize leisure activities, such as monthly coffee breaks, bi-monthly celebrations, barbecues, and afterschool outings. One of these special activities was a visit from the creator of Ph.D. comics, Jorge Cham.

Finally and most importantly, we seek to promote the work and encourage the participation of under-represented groups in OR/MS. This is accomplished through our social media initiatives, such as Twitter Tuesday and French Friday, the selection of our invited guest speakers, and the composition of our team. We strive to exemplify the Montreal and Canadian philosophy of drawing strength from our diversity.

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Texas A&M University

The home of the INFORMS Student Chapter at Texas A&M (INFORMS at TAMU) is the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, but membership includes students from computer science, electrical engineering, and mathematics. The chapter kicked off the fall semester with a “welcome back” party and a faculty-student bowling social. The chapter also debuted a series of Women in OR/MS (WORMS) interviews in its September newsletter. The first WORMS interview was with Dr. Michelle Alvarado of the University of Florida, and the series will continue in January 2018 with Dr. Burcu Keskin of the University of Alabama. Both of these women are former presidents of INFORMS at TAMU, which Dr. Keskin founded in 2004. Throughout Summer and Fall 2017, the chapter’s Academic Team developed a series of data analysis workshops using the JMP Software from SAS. Additionally, the Annual Meeting and Academic Teams hosted student presentation practice sessions preceding the 2017 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Houston. Texas A&M sent twenty-four student volunteers to serve at the Annual Meeting. Finally, the chapter’s Industry Team has hosted several companies to discuss career options for students in OR/MS and related fields. Connect with INFORMS at TAMU online to learn more about upcoming initiatives.

Website: http://www.informstamu.com/

Twitter: @INFORMS_TAMU

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University of Virginia

The University of Virginia (UVA) INFORMS Student Chapter is dedicated to fostering community among its members as well as supporting professional development. To this end, the chapter looks for every opportunity to connect students who otherwise might never have met and to strengthen existing relationships. Forging these relationships is vital to a student's success professionally and academically. In 2017 the chapter facilitated many opportunities, including orientation events for new graduate students in the spring and fall, group hikes in the Shenandoah/Blue Ridge Mountain region, trips to local breweries, and a Thanksgiving potluck dinner, among others. The dinner was an opportunity for students who may or may not have been able to go home for Thanksgiving to enjoy quality time together and a delicious meal. The UVA student chapter is honored to serve the student body here at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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