OR/MS Today, August 1997
By Art Geoffrion
Its seeds were
planted last November, and now it's finally coming to fruit.
People will wonder how they ever got along without it. I'm
so proud of the launch team. Let me explain.
Students and recent graduates obviously are the future of
the profession. We at INFORMS cannot rest until we serve
them as well as we possibly can. How are we doing?
The student focus groups held at the last three national
meetings acknowledge the value of what INFORMS offers
students: a fine Job Placement Service with on-line resumes
and convenient interviewing at both national meetings, an
Internship Program, the Doctoral Colloquium, the Dantzig
Dissertation Award and Nicholson Prize, our publications and
meetings, the Forum on Education, a listserver for students,
booklets on careers and educational programs, and student
chapters. But the focus groups also point out numerous
important opportunities for new or improved products and
Dedicated volunteers and staff are working hard to
respond to these opportunities. In addition, there is now a
major new development that should go a long way toward
meeting many of the previously unmet needs.
I refer to the ambitious new Website metaphorically named
Student Union at
Together with our existing products and services, it aims to
make INFORMS nothing less than mission-critical to students
and recent graduates.
It will also be valuable to established faculty and
practitioners, and in any case needs their assistance to
reach its fullest potential.
Student Union comprises eight major "centers" and
"offices," each containing Web resources addressing a
distinct type of need. Here is a brief sketch of some of
Career Center. Finding a good job is the number
one concern of students and recent grads. This center houses
extensive job listings, placement services, advice on how
best to conduct a job search, insider accounts of what
different kinds of organizations are like, links to
corporate and academic employers of OR/MS experts, and links
to the career pages of many related societies.
Employers: please submit a link for your organization
if missing, and make sure your listed jobs stay current.
Successful people: please share your experience and
Financial Aid Office. Supporting one's education,
and then research if a junior faculty member, is a very
common need. This office houses extensive compilations of
sources for financial aid and research funding, plus tips on
writing proposals. Agencies, foundations, and
sponsors: please make sure your programs are listed.
Professional Development Center. The half-life of
degrees in OR/MS and related fields seems to grow ever
shorter. This center emphasizes non-academic careers and
aims to help graduates, whether recent or otherwise, stay
abreast of new developments, flourish as practitioners,
think through professional responsibilities and understand
where the profession is heading. Mature
professionals: please suggest materials that have helped
you or contribute something of your own.
Teaching Center. Teaching well is essential
nowadays for academics of all ages, and many of the same
skills are useful to non-academics too. This center offers
carefully culled links on teaching skills, teaching
materials for OR/MS, how to use the new digital and
interactive technologies, TA support centers, and
springboards to much more. Master teachers: please
share your favorite materials.
In addition, Student Union contains:
a Learning Center with self-instructional
resources in computing, mathematics, OR/MS and other topics;
a Personal Skills Center devoted to
career-critical topics seldom taught well in graduate school
such as how to speak and write effectively, how to listen,
and how to build a personal professional network;
a Research Center that includes a database
of research projects classified by technical area; and
a Student Paper Office that publishes
OR/MS Tomorrow and has links to student publications
of other societies.
The initial version of Student Union just sketched was
created by Andy Armacost, Jim Cochran, Erhan Erkut, Harvey
Greenberg, Jeffrey Herrmann, Joakim Kalvenes, Jim Orlin,
Ramaswammy Ramesh, Stan Zionts, invaluable student
assistants such as Dave Morlitz and Max Moroz, and myself.
On behalf of INFORMS, my thanks to all.
Others have generously offered to contribute additional
rooms in the near future. I should also mention that it
remains to be decided which parts of Student Union will be
reserved for INFORMS members only.
On behalf of the launch team, I invite you to take
advantage of this rich new resource and to offer suggestions
and improvements either directly through the mail-to links
on many of the pages or via the public HyperNews forum at
Please contact one of us if you would like to contribute
in a substantial way to Student Union's future evolution.
Art Geoffrion is the president of INFORMS. He can be reached
via e-mail at
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