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Awards - The May Hicks awards

Win £1000 for the best industry-based student projects in O.R.

The OR Society funds its annual awards for student projects from a generous bequest from the estate of Mrs May Hicks, wife of Donald Hicks, OBE, a major contributor to Operational Research and the first treasurer of The OR Society. Projects entered are O.R. projects carried out for a client organisation rather than within the university.

Citation for The May Hicks Awards 2016

The OR Society is delighted to announce the winners of the 2016 May Hicks prize for best student project, and for the first time ever (I think), it’s winners in the plural sense. There was a clear gap between the top three and the rest of the pack, and since there was less than a hair’s breadth between those three, the judging panel agreed to award joint winners.

In alphabetical order, the top three are Ghyslain Gaillard (Southampton), Ruth Walton (Southampton) and Connor Wilson (Strathclyde). All three will be receiving cheques for £500, and it’s the University of Southampton with the widest grins, capturing two of the top three spots.

Ghyslian’s work involved building a predictive model using state-of-the-art data analytics and machine learning techniques. It helped his clients, InReach Ventures, to assess which start-up companies would prove the best prospects to invest in. Ghyslian’ s since gone back to work full-time as a data scientist with InReach.




The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) were the client’s for Ruth’s project, part of a wider review of their warehousing strategy, set up to find the optimal number of warehouses, their locations and the stock that should be stored in each warehouse, whilst minimizing the total costs of storage and transportation. Her work demonstrated huge potential for cutting distances travelled (around 50%) and as much as a 7% reduction in costs.




Connor’s dissertation was titled ‘Uncertainty Analysis of Burner Zone Stoichiometry and Nitric Oxide emissions for Doosan Babcock’s Clean Combustion Test Facility’. The client described his Monte Carlo simulation and subsequent sensitivity analysis as a fantastic example of how analytics can have an impact on all our lives.





This year’s bumper crop of entries were of very high quality; the judges were delighted with the wide range of client organisations using O.R. Thanks to everyone who contributed.  The 2017 competition will be announced soon, with a deadline of 31 January 2018 for entries.

Congratulations to all winners.