Martin Kunc, chair of ERC.
The overall aim of the ERC is to enable education and research in Operational Research (OR) to thrive and to have impact. In order to achieve our aim, we are working on different initiatives.
One initiative is to map the landscape of education and research, and use this knowledge to identify and respond to issues and identify opportunities. We have commissioned a charitable project to have a better understanding of the supply chain of people (practitioners, users and academics) in OR. In parallel, projects with students are also taking place in a similar area. The objective is to be able, by the end of 2016, to produce a document related to the current and future supply chain. Hopefully, the document can support the actions of academic and company-based OR groups in the future. This is a critical issue since the higher education landscape will be changing substantially due to the future legislation proposed by the government.
A current initiative also in the area of OR supply chain is related to OR in Schools. This initiative has been running for a number of years and it has produced important material (online and offline) for the dissemination of OR with Maths teachers. This initiative is a key action for the future of the OR supply chain given the recent changes in A-level curriculum. While there are almost 200 volunteers, the level of proactive volunteers is not large enough to raise the profile of OR among all secondary students. We need volunteers to attend schools and raise awareness so we can have a healthy supply chain of OR people. Please, contact your local school to give a presentation and then ORiS for materials. One presentation can make a large difference to the future of the OR profession.
Another initiative is to ensure that the OR Society voice is heard in relevant national bodies and consultations, with respect to OR research and education, and its impact. In this area, we have limitations. While the president of the OR society is engaged in scanning consultations and participating in meetings with learned societies, we don’t have the capability in place to scan all consultations. We also lack in-depth knowledge of the education landscape to produce fast and evidence-based responses to consultations. I would like to invite volunteers to contact us so we can create a database with the knowledge existing in different areas of OR education. Ideally, we should be in a better position after we finish the projects scanning the supply chain of OR people as well as an initiative, which is going to be launched in September, to collect, nationally, information about activities in OR academic groups.
Finally, the ERC has to enable the OR research community to have access to funding and the OR practice community to benefit from research and academic expertise. In this area, there is important news. A Research Panel has been formed with very experienced researchers to support the development of capabilities in the OR community to access funding from EPSRC. We look forward to learning more about the initiatives they plan to implement to achieve more successful OR researchers. Additional initiatives will take place in the rest of the year.
There are always opportunities to support the OR community in the areas of education and research so, please, contact us.