Early Career Research Network Event at OR64

The OR Society Early Career Research (ECR) Network held an in-person event on Tuesday 13 September during the OR64 conference in Warwick. The theme of the event was ‘forging collaborations and solving problems with industry’. Attendees heard engaging presentations from colleagues working in industry, Dr Christoph Werner and Dr Kiko Rul-lan.

Dr Christoph Werner is a Senior Simulation Consultant at Simul8. He has been working as part of Simul8’s ‘Simulation Excellence Team’ since 2018, where he has delivered numerous simulation projects in many different countries and application areas, ranging from the automotive, defence, food and energy industries to healthcare and other service sectors.

Dr Kiko Rul-lan is a Principal Data Scientist at Datasparq. He works on metaheuristic optimisation of vehicle routing and planning, dynamic pricing and statistical learning with industrial applications.

Both speakers shared their experiences of the challenges faced when working in industry, touching on a wide range of application areas including vehicle routing, matching job applicants to employers, manufacturing settings, and improving patient flow in hospitals.

Laura Boyle.jpg

Laura Boyle, Chair of the OR Society’s Early Career Researchers Network.

Their presentations provided an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the diversity of topics and application areas to which operational researchers in industry can contribute and, in particular, the variety of different areas of work for operational researchers within a single company. It was interesting to learn about the research projects which are carried out by each speaker’s company. One of the key take-aways from their talks was the emphasis that timelines for completing research work in industry are usually much shorter than in academia.

We concluded the talks with a Question & Answer session, where the speakers contributed their personal perspectives of solving research challenges in industry versus in academia, as well as explaining some of the challenges and opportunities experienced by academics moving to apply their skills in an industrial setting.

After the talks and Q&A, we enjoyed an informal networking reception with early career researchers, the speakers, and other industry practitioners who were attending OR64. This was my first experience of attending the OR Society Conference and an ECR Network event in-person (having been to some events online during the pandemic). I found that many of the other ECRs have had the same experience, so it was great for us to have an opportunity to meet and chat.

We had 30 people attend the talks, and more joined us at the networking event after the other simultaneous sessions had concluded. If you missed this event, keep an eye out for events we have upcoming this year. We look forward to holding in-person events more frequently, including an exciting full-day workshop before OR65 in September 2023.

Dr Laura Boyle is a lecturer in Data Analytics at Queen’s University Belfast and Chair of the OR Society’s Early Career Researchers Network. Laura’s research interests are in simulation modelling and data analytics with healthcare applications. Laura can be contacted at laur[email protected]