Successful ORIE Showcase highlights undergrad research, promotes the field

The Cornell Undergraduate ORIE Society and Associate Professor David Goldberg hosted an event billed as an ORIE Showcase on Tuesday, May 3 in Rhodes Hall. The event featured a poster session, networking, food, and a short talk by Professor Peter Frazier and ORIE undergrads Henry Robbins and Bonnie Akhavan.

The showcase was conceived with several purposes in mind. One was to give ORIE undergraduates a chance to share their research projects with peers, professors, grad students, and students from outside of ORIE. Another was to help build a feeling of community in the school after two long years of limited chances to socialize. And a third goal shared by Goldberg and the student leaders of the Undergraduate ORIE Society was to introduce the field of Operations Research to students who have not yet have chosen a major.

There were ten posters and a software demo in the poster session, representing the work of close to 25 ORIE undergraduates in collaboration with faculty members Mark Lewis, David Shmoys, Shane Henderson, Jamol Pender, Gennady Samorodnitsky, Katya Scheinberg, and David Goldberg. The crowd of more than 80 people circulated and had a chance to ask questions of the students about their research design, methods, results, and conclusions.

Attendees also had pizza and soft drinks provided by the School.

In the second half of the event, Peter Frazier, (the Eleanor and Howard Morgan Professor of Operations Research and Information Engineering), was joined by seniors Robbins and Akhavan as they presented a description of the invaluable work done by a large team of ORIE faculty and students in response to the emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic in late 2019.

The work done by the University’s COVID-19 modeling team is what enabled the University to be open for in-person classes while simultaneously monitoring disease spread and relative risk.

The talk was well-received and students in the audience had many questions about both the methods used and the challenges of real-time, consequential research.

Professor Goldberg collected contact information from more than 40 students interested in learning more about Operations Research at Cornell. This year’s event—organized by Goldberg along with Cornell Undergraduate ORIE Society leaders Jody Zhu, Kathy Byun, Vaish Gajaraj, Henry Robbins--was a big success and is now scheduled to happen every April in the coming years.

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