Ph.D. Student Selin Damla Ahipasaoglu Introduces OR to CURIE Academy High School Students
Selin Damla Ahipasaoglu came to Cornell from Turkey, with BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering from Bilkent University. She took time out from her Ph.D. research into mathematical programming to introduce a group of high school students attending Cornell's CURIE Academy to the opportunities in the field of operations research.
| Selin Damla Ahipasaoglu discusses operations research with CURIE student Sofie Tucker
"It was my first time hearing about operations research (to be honest, I'd never even heard of it until the lecture) so it was definitely interesting," said Sofie Tucker, a CURIE student about to enter her junior year at Winter Springs High School near Orlando, Florida. "What appealed to me was the interdisciplinary nature of the field. It combines subjects like finance and engineering which most people wouldn't draw connections between initially."
CURIE student Sasha Panaram said that as a result of the session she "was much better able to see the place of Operations Research in the business world, since it can be used to help solve different mathematical problems and help influence business decisions." Panaram, from the Bronx, New York, has begun her senior year at Preston High School, an all girls Catholic High School in the the Bronx.
In her lecture, Ahipasaoglu described the field of operations research and profiled some key women OR professionals, notably Dr. Brenda Dietrich, currently Vice President of the Business Analytics and Mathematical Sciences Department at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center. Dietrich is an alumna of ORIE's Ph.D. program. Ahipasaoglu then showed portions of a video that demonstrated diverse applications of operations research, including organizing waiting lines at banks and at Disneyland, picking the best routes for freight delivery, analyzing cells for breast cancer, negotiating peace in Bosnia, scheduling airline resources, scheduling beer production, predicting election outcomes, and even searching for sunken treasure.
| Selin Damla Ahipasaoglu discusses ORIE Ph.D. alum Brenda Dietrich with CURIE participants
Ahipasaoglu said "it was my pleasure to talk to these intelligent young women. I hope that I was able to share my enthusiasm about operations research." Tucker said that "a lot of the girls felt that the lecture was informative. Many knew they wanted to pursue engineering, but weren't aware of all the different possibilities so the experience was insightful." Panaram "got the sense that everyone was more well informed about Operations Research than they had been prior to the lecture."
The CURIE Academy is a one-week summer residential program for high school girls who excel in math and science and want to learn more about careers in engineering. It is an initiative of the Diversity Programs in Engineering office at Cornell. The one week program encompasses classes, lab sessions, and project research as well as social events, panel discussions and other out-of-classroom activities to provide informal networking opportunities for participants. "I learned so much more than I thought was possible in one week," said Tucker. "CURIE mixed fun with learning and these two things coupled together provided for an eye opening and memorable experience," said Panaram.
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