Student Chapter Spotlight: Pitt INFORMS

The University of Pittsburgh INFORMS Student Chapter primarily serves graduate students in the Industrial Engineering Department to encourage students to expand their networks and enhance their academic skills. In the past couple of years, we have made an effort to begin offering more academic and social events to our student members and have recently advertised our events more broadly to students in the business and engineering schools. We have a Facebook page ( and maintain our Chapter’s page ( on the INFORMS website to update our members on upcoming events, as well as summarize recent events.


We have held a social event each month during 2017 to help students create a network and have fun while working hard at school. Each year, we have a social event at the beginning of the semester to welcome new students to the department. This year, we held a tailgate breakfast and rooted on our Pitt Panthers at Heinz Stadium. In October, we teamed up with the CMU INFORMS Chapter to see which chapter could knock down more pins at the bowling alley. In November, we let students put their strategy skills to use in a board game night where there was heavy competition in a game of spades and lots of collaboration to find cures for diseases in a game of Pandemic. In December, we look to finish up the semester by celebrating the end of the semester with root beer floats!


In addition, we have offered several academic events during 2017. The semester started with a student panel where more senior Ph.D. students offered advice to our first year Ph.D. and Masters students about succeeding in graduate school. In October, we held practice presentations before the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Houston to let students practice their presentations and answer questions in front of a large group. This event also provided junior students with the opportunity to learn about on-going research in our department and what they can look forward to at their first conference. For our first INFORMS Speaker Series event, our chapter hosted Dr. Tasha Inniss, Director of Education and Industry Outreach at INFORMS. During Dr. Inniss’s visit, we held a luncheon for our students to interact with her in a one-on-one setting to learn more about her experiences and the challenges she has faced throughout her career. She discussed her academic career as a professor, her time at the National Science Foundation, and details of her new position at INFORMS. Later that day, Dr. Inniss gave the seminar talk for all IE graduate students and discussed how she has used her applied mathematics background in all facets of her career. She also shared some tips that she has learned throughout her professional career.

In addition to these events, we have started hosting software tutorials to help our students understand different software packages that are used in research, but not covered in class. This semester, we hosted a tutorial on CPLEX and another tutorial on GUROBI. We invited students who have great experience in using the software to create a tutorial guide, walk students through a problem, and detail the basics of the software.  Next semester, we plan to host an R Tutorial, as well as an Advanced CPLEX Tutorial.


Next semester, we are also looking forward to continuing our INFORMS Speaker series, practice presentations, and tutorials. We will hold our annual Mock Qualifiers to prepare our first-year students for their qualifying exams to officially become Ph.D. students within the department. Finally, we plan to take our students skating, host a March Madness tournament bracket, and hold a championship watch party, and celebrate the end of the semester with a picnic!