Master of Engineering Graduates Receive Degrees and Awards at Commencement Ceremony
More than eighty Master of Engineering students gathered with friends and family in Rockefellar Hall's Schwartz Auditorium for a degree recognition ceremony on Saturday, May 24. At the ceremony, Dr. Kathryn E. Caggiano noted that the event marked her first year as Associate Director for Master of Engineering studies. "This, in and of itself, is one reason why the M.Eng. Class of 2008 will be memorable for me," she said, but the more telling reason is that the class is "truly an extraordinary group of individuals."
As Dr. Caggiano read out the names of students from many countries and cultures, Professor John A. Muckstadt handed each student a commemorative medallion and photographs were taken. For those who completed their degree requirements this spring, diplomas were made available following the Commencement ceremonies the following day, since graduate degrees cannot be awarded before the Dean of the Graduate School officially presents the graduates to Cornell's President at the Schoelkopf Field commencement ceremony.
Prior to the recognition of Master of Engineering degree recipients, Dr. Caggiano announced winners of the Silent Hoist and Crane Materials Handling Prize and the Andrew Schultz, Jr. Awards.
Andrew Schultz, Jr. Award
|Professor Jack Muckstadt presents a commencement medallion to Andrew Schultz, Jr. award winner Yosuke Kato.|
The Andrew Schultz, Jr. Awards recognize the most outstanding Master of Engineering students, as evidenced by high academic achievement, exceptional teamwork, and demonstrated potential to become exemplary professional citizens. The award honors the late head of ORIE's predecessor Department of Industrial Engineering and Administration, who served as Dean of the College of Engineering during years when Operations Research became established in the College. Dr. Caggiano presented this year's awards to Yosuke Kato and Enjue Wang. Kato, from Tokyo, Japan, completed his undergraduate work in systems design engineering and computational mechanics at Keio University in Tokyo. This fall he will start work for Mitsubishi Research Institute in Tokyo. As an M.Eng. student Kato pursued the Applied Operations Research concentration and participated in an award-winning project.
|Enjue Wang receives a handshake and a medallion from Professor Jack Muckstadt.|
Wang, also known as Andrew, came to Cornell from Beijing University, where he majored in biotech as an undergraduate, to pursue a Ph.D. in pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan, eventually transferring to biophysics. However while working on his Ph.D. he developed an interest in financial engineering and completed a Master of Engineering degree in that concentration on the Ithaca campus. He is now with Platinum Grove Asset Management in Rye Brook, New York. Wang said he enjoyed getting to know his M. Eng. classmates at Cornell, especially those in financial engineering. "I learned a lot about industry and interviews, and had a lot of fun." He also particularly enjoyed several of the courses, including both those relating to the mathematics used in financial engineering such as probability and stochastic calculus and those specific to applications in investment, portfolio management and computational finance. As a student in the financial engineering concentration, Wang worked on a project for Deutsche Bank.
Materials Handling Prize
The Silent Hoist and Crane Materials Handling Prize was originally established, in 1950, for the purpose of "stimulating the thinking of engineering students with aptitude or special interest in the Art and Science of Materials Handling." Dr. Caggiano pointed out that the "handling of data and information are now recognized as important, if not vital, operational functions in almost all organizations," so that the scope of the Prize has been expanded to recognize exceptional project work promoting materials handling technology "in its broadest sense." While the competition is open to all students and teams in the College of Engineering, the three projects receiving awards this year were all ORIE M.Eng. projects:
- First Place: Empirical Analysis of Analog Devices Incorporated's Website Traffic." Team: Timothy Ebner, Rahul Kumar and I-Hsiang Lee.
- Second Place: "Architecture for Analyzing the Efficiency of Hospital Plans and Policies During a Pandemic Influenza Outbreak: A Simulation bsaed Modeling Environment." Team: James Codella and Jeffrey Schvey.
- Third Place: "Air Emergency Vehicle Allocation for Ornge." Team: Luke Baer, El Mehdi Benhmade, Yosuke Kato, Lee Morgan and Yiming Zhang.
M. Eng. graduate Roberto Yunen, Chair of the OR M.Eng. Student Committee, presented a surprise special award to Kathryn King, ORIE's graduate coordinator. The award plaque commended her "for her extraordinary contribution." King handles a broad array of administrative matters for both Master of Engineering and Ph.D. students, works with them on a day-to-day basis, and organizes the commencement ceremony. Yunen, from the Dominican Republic, attended Cornell for two years on a Fulbright scholarship through LASPAU Academic and Professional Programs for the Americas. He completed both the Manufacturing Concentration and the Semester in Strategic Operations.
|Kumar, Lee and Ebner After Receiving Their Team Award at Commencement.|
The team awarded first place in the Silent Hoist and Crane competition carried out the latest in a series of M. Eng. projects for Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) dealing with the company's use of the internet for marketing. The project was advised by Professor Paat Rusmevichientong. Partly as a result of findings of an earlier M. Eng. project, ADI bids on advertising that is displayed on Google's search results page when users list specific search terms, through Google's AdWords program. Subsequent projects focused on maximizing traffic flowing to ADI's web site from these ads. The current study used newly available data to determine the extent to which this traffic results in sales or other results relating to brand awareness, and the extent to which specific characteristics of the "landing pages" linked from Google ads influenced effectiveness. The team discovered that only a small fraction of search terms purchased by ADI were responsible for a large percentage of such results and that landing page features were significant contributors to effectiveness. They developed recommendations based on these findings, and set up a successful test campaign based on their insights.
ADI project client David Gray, manager of search engine and online advertising for a division of ADI, spoke highly of the team's work. He said "we will use the findings of this study to design and implement new customized landing pages for our Google advertisements directly based on the Cornell ORIE team's recommendations." He noted that the continuing collaboration with Cornell ORIE "has provided us with so much value and insight to our organization that the results are fundamental building blocks for our online marketing - advertising strategy."
|Dr. Caggiano presents Silent Hoist and Crane 2nd Place Award to Jeffrey Schvey and James Codella as Professors Henderson, Tardos, Strawderman and Schied look on.|
Cayuga Medical Center
The second place "Pandemic Flu" team, advised by Professor John A. Muckstadt, created a software program that can help hospital administrators evaluate the risks associated with specific plans and policies for dealing with an outbreak of pandemic influenza. The program works in an online environment that measures the interaction of patient characteristics, including arrival and severity rates; consumption of resources such as ventilators, masks, pharmaceuticals, staff and facilities; and financial considerations. The project was carried out for Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca. The work incorporates a simulation of the evolution of the hospital's situation over time and under uncertainty during an epidemic, and permits administrators to establish data parameters, select scenarios, and store and compare the results. Professor Muckstadt recently demonstrated aspects of the software to alumni in Atlanta, GA, and Jacksonville, FL.
Dr. David Evelyn, Vice President for Medical Affairs at Cayuga Medical Center, noted that most hospitals don't have modeling software to help predict usage of supplies and resources during a surge of patients, whether from disaster or disease. "James and Jeffrey's project is a great step in helping hospitals have that capability," he said.
|Ornge team members Kato, Zhang, Benhmade and Morgan with advisor Henderson after the ceremony.|
Under the guidance of Professor Shane Henderson, the team winning third place in the competition worked with the operator of one of the largest aero-medical transport programs in North America, called Ornge. Ornge is located in Toronto, Ontario and operates out of 22 bases around the province, 9 of which are staffed 24/7. The Ornge team used optimization techniques to determine the best subset of 14 possible heliports at which to base transport helicopters, concluding that the current basing of helicopters could be improved by changing the base location of one helicopter. They went on to determine the impact of adding helicopters to the fleet and basing them optimally. Using these results the team then developed a detailed computer simulation that enabled them to closely predict response times and waiting characteristics for the current and proposed basing, and to analyze the response time characteristics of a variety of scenarios under consideration by Ornge.
The team worked closely with Mahvareh Ahghari at Ornge. She said that "the Cornell team did a great job on this collaborative project. Ornge can use the outcomes of this study to allocate existing and/or new resources in an evidence-based manner."
|ADI Team Members I-Hsiang Lee, Rahul Kumar and Timothy Ebner with Project Client David Gray and Advisor Paat Rusmevichientong at ADI's Ray Stata Engineering Center in Wilmington, MA.|
The ADI team brought a wide array of academic backgrounds to their Master of Engineering program and to the project. I-Hsiang Lee, from Taiwan, has both undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science, the first from National Taiwan University and the second from the University of California Santa Barbara. Tim Ebner, from Chesapeake, VA, majored in economics at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and worked as an economic consultant in Washington, DC before coming to Cornell for his M. Eng. Rahul Kumar graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India, in chemical engineering.
Ebner noted that ADI project advisor Professor Rusmevichientong "encouraged us to take full responsibility for every aspect of the project, including communicating with the client, leading conference calls, and delivering results through written reports and presentations." Ebner mentioned the challenges in "applying theoretical concepts to real world problems," adding that "a certain degree of creativity is needed to frame the client's problems in a way that can be analyzed with quantitative tools."
Teammate I-Hsiang Lee said that, when the team became frustrated due to data issues, the fact that their advisor told them "do what you can do" changed their attitude about the project. "We started to think about how we can help Analog Devices improve their E-Marketing strategy and performance," he said, and we came up with the ideas that made the project successful. Rahul Kumar said that the project was "eye-opening in terms of how organizational hierarchies influence strategic decisions and how important the little things can be -- like giving regular updates and keeping everyone involved."
Ebner is currently in the Accelerated MBA program at Cornell, a program open to M. Eng. graduates. He will graduate in May 2009 with an MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management. Kumar works as a consultant with Cap Gemini in New York City. Lee will soon enroll in the Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech.
Both members of the Pandemic Flu team, James Codella and Jeffrey Schvey, were undergraduates in ORIE before undertaking the Master of Engineering program. Codella, from Lagrangeville, NY, now works as a data analytics engineer in the Mathematics Sciences department of IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, NY. He found it exciting to work on the project not only because health care is a "very relevant topic today," but also because "it was really cool to be doing something that no one has really done."
Codella and Schvey liked working with the hospital staff, with Schvey commenting that he learned "how to develop a product with a customer through an interactive process. As engineers we view things differently than nurses and doctors, and this was my first real experience developing something in coordination with people of significantly different backgrounds," Schvey continued. Schvey, from Millburn, NJ, is now employed by Raytheon, working in mission assurance and performance excellence in their Space and Airborne Systems business group. While he is currently in El Segundo, CA, the leadership program in which he is enrolled will take him to three different business groups in three different locations over three years.
Ornge team member Benhmade, who is originally from Morocco, did his undergraduate degree at École Centrale Paris and is currently a junior trader at Société Générale in Tokyo. He commented on the international character of the team, noting that "customs probably thought we were a UN group when crossing the border to go to Toronto." Benhmade was pleased with the interaction between the team and Ornge management, who provided "feedback at each step of our modeling." Lee Morgan, a US citizen now from Panama City, Panama, said "this project really got me to realize how powerful OR methods are in solving many real world problems." Morgan, who received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell, now works as an analyst for financial services consultancy First Manhattan Consulting Group (co-founded by ORIE alumnus James McCormick).
Schultz awardee Kato, a member of the Ornge team, found it pleasurable to utilize the array of techniques learned in class in a "very practical setting," but learned from the project "how to deal with a vast amount of data, which we rarely face in a college class." He noted that the project experience is "totally different from solving problems given by professors. It is solving problems I give to myself."
The team working on the project for the Canadian firm Ornge included two students from Canada. Luke Baer, a Cornell ORIE graduate from London, Ontario, currently works as an intern for Bank of America as a Quality Assurance Associate in Manhattan. He said that the most important thing he learned is that "real-world problems are not cut and dried like school is. You need to do the best with what you have, be honest, and hope that your results are valuable." Baer started the M. Eng. program in spring 2008 and will return to Ithaca to complete his degree in the fall. Team member Yiming Zhang, also a Cornell ORIE graduate, is from Toronto, Canada, the home location of Ornge.