May Hicks Award

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 OR projects carried out for a client organisation rather than within the university.

Citation for the May Hicks Awards 2018

The OR Society is delighted to announce the winners of the 2018 May Hicks prize for Best Post-graduate Project. The winner, Sara Heledd Thomas from Cardiff University, received £1000. The two runners up were Julian Venken from Stathclyde University and Jonathan Cooper from University of Southampton, both of whom received £250 each.


The project undertaken by Sara Heledd Thomas was for the Hwel Dda University Health Board as part of her MSc in Operational Research, Applied Statistics and Financial Risk course at Cardiff University. The project was analysing some of the challenges associated with the interactions between the health and social care systems; an increasing challenging problem in this current age. The development of a detailed simulation model backed up by statistical analysis and data mining techniques has provided the client with significant new insights into this scenario. The high profile nature of this project has resulted in OR methods being recognized as a key tool in working in multi-disciplinary teams.

Julian Venken's project was carried out in collaboration with the Communities Analysis Division of the Scottish Government as part of his MSc course at Strathclyde University. The aim was to investigate the design of the new social security agency contact centre. The project involved mapping the of the advice and support contact centre followed by the development of a discrete event simulation model. The active involvement of all key stakeholders has ensured acceptance of the approach which will have long term benefits to the client.  

Jonathan Cooper’s project explored intelligent trend detection from time series data related to the performance of landing gear components for Airbus. He used traditional scientific method combined with data science techniques in a very pragmatic and thoughtful way and achieved excellent results.

There were 16 entries, all of very high quality; the judges were delighted with the wide range of client organisations using OR. Thanks to everyone who contributed. The 2019 competition will be announced soon, with a deadline of 28 February for entries.

Congratulations to all winners.


Julian Venken.jpg

Julian Venken, Runner-Up

Jonathan Cooper Runner up of 2018 May Hicks Award

Jonathan Cooper, Runner-up

Previous Awards

Read More


Read More