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Heinz College Named Top Analytics Program by INFORMS

By Michael Cunningham

The UPS George D. Smith Prize is presented by INFORMS to the top analytics education program in the world.

Heinz College was awarded the prestigious UPS George D. Smith Prize by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the leading association for professionals in advanced analytics and operations research. The announcement was made at the 2016 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research in Orlando.

“INFORMS has a long and rich tradition of honoring the very best in operations research and analytics through an array of awards, conferences and publications,” said Melissa Moore, INFORMS executive director. “The Smith Prize is a key part of those awards. We congratulate Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College for winning the 2016 Smith Prize.”

“We are proud of the work this year’s INFORMS George D. Smith Prize recipient, Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, is doing to develop the next generation of operations research and analytics practitioners,” said Chuck Holland, UPS vice president of engineering. “At a time when world leaders are struggling to find answers to complex problems – global trade, emerging markets, poverty, and hunger among many others, Operations Research is a discipline they should turn to for solutions. These O.R. and analytics students are the key to a better future. We congratulate the Heinz College for winning the 2016 UPS George D. Smith Prize.”

Heinz College’s unique and effective analytical education, experiential learning activities and successful collaboration between students and partner organizations for capstone projects played an important role in its winning this award.

Those collaborations allow students to put skills into practice. Through experiential learning opportunities like capstone projects, internships, and apprenticeships, Heinz students help to research and develop solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.

Project partnerships include organizations across all sectors of the economy. In one, students worked with the representatives from McKinsey & Company to analyze factors that lead consumers to various health insurance decisions.

“The students brought a set of technology and analytical skills to bear on that problem which we were unaccustomed to seeing from other academic programs," said Paul Mango, director of McKinsey & Company. “We have continued to engage with fantastic Heinz students through the capstone program and have recently added Heinz to the list of top schools from which we recruit our associates.”

Projects Make the Difference

Watch Heinz College's presentation to INFORMS, which features examples of high-impact student projects.

Another student group worked with Pittsburgh Veterans Engineering Resource Center (VERC). A cardiologist was concerned about the need for some echocardiograms being ordered for patients at the center for the Department of Veterans Affairs. A team of Heinz students conducted machine learning and data mining analysis to determine the percentage of echocardiograms needed to provide optimal health care.

“We did find out through the use of the analytics tools that the students developed that some of the testing was inappropriate,” said Bob Monte, director of the Pittsburgh VERC. “This is important, because if we are able to eliminate some of the inappropriate testing, we are then able to provide better access to [all] patients.”

Individual efforts by students also make a big impact.

Megan John, a student in the Heinz College’s School of Public Policy & Management Washington, D.C., program, is identifying trends within data sets of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC).

“The Carnegie Mellon effort in working specifically with analytics and the data that they have provided to us, and in the different ways of using this data, have been very important in our quest to make sure that we’re effective HUD regulators,” said D.J. LaVoy, deputy assistant secretary of REAC. “The project that we’re working on has the potential to save millions of taxpayers’ dollars.”

  • Krishnan is presented with a plaque during George D Smith Prize Ceremony
  • Krishnan is given a plaque during George D Smith Prize Ceremony
  • Representatives from UPS give a panel talk
  • Representatives from UPS give a panel talk
  • The George D Smith Prize

Top Honors

Colleagues from UPS and INFORMS came to Hamburg Hall to present the award to Dean Krishnan, and sat on a panel for Heinz faculty and students.

The UPS George D. Smith Prize, which includes a $10,000 cash award, is given to an academic department or program for effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research.

“We are honored and excited to receive this prestigious award,” said Heinz College Dean Ramayya Krishnan. “As the School founded by William W. Cooper, a legendary operations researcher, analytic thinking, appropriate use of technology and a deep interest in societal problem solving are embedded in our DNA.”

INFORMS, the INFORMS College for the Practice of Management Science (CPMS) and UPS collaborated to establish the award five years ago, which has attracted applications from highly recognized academic programs.

“The Heinz College program epitomizes the spirit of the UPS George D. Smith Prize, which recognizes exceptional academic programs for their effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research, management science, and analytics,” said Robin Lougee, research industry lead for consumer products, business solutions, and mathematical sciences for IBM, and chair of the George D. Smith Prize Committee. “The program at the Heinz College is commended for its long and outstanding record of preparing students with the trifecta of theoretical knowledge, technology know-how and interpersonal skills that are necessary to successfully practice data-driven approaches to address major societal challenges.”

The UPS George D. Smith Prize is named in honor of the late UPS chief executive officer who was a patron of operations researchers at this leading Fortune 500 Corporation. George D. Smith was the second CEO of UPS, holding the position from 1962-1972.

Learn more about the Smith Prize