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Generous sponsors again enable bright young operations researchers to attend ORSSA 2023

Updated: Apr 5

The development and use of OR in Africa is an important component of ORSSA. As such the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the ORSSA 2023 conference offered the Development Package Sponsorship again this year to support promising students from different universities. The sponsorship provided attendance, travel and lodgings for the conference.

The LOC was once again very excited to accept the offers from the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) and the NWU Centre for Business Mathematics and Informatics to buy two of these packages. Their sponsorship enabled Hannah Jarvis, Sha-abaan Slamang, S'khumbuzo Ngema, Hendrik Snyman, Ellen Maseko, Emma Davis, and Michaela Budge to attend as student delegates. ORSSA further matched the number of sponsored students one-to-one to increase access to the event.

Back from LTR: Hendrik Snyman, Hannah Jarvis, Ellen Maseko, and Sha-abaan Slamang. Front from LTR: Michaela Budge, S'khumbuzo Ngema, Emma Davis.

The students provide the following feedback to express their thanks:

S'khumbuzo Ngema writes, "I would like to thank you and ORSSA for supporting my participation in the 52nd Annual ORSSA Conference. Your assistance was crucial and allowed me to attend the conference.

As UNISA is a distance learning institution, I had the opportunity to meet my lecturers for the first time, as well as individuals who use OR skills, which was my dream so that I could better comprehend the duties of OR in practice. I also had the opportunity to meet other OR candidates from other institutions.

The conference helped me better comprehend the roles and responsibilities of an OR. Since I was previously oblivious to the actual applications of OR skills in the workplace, I found the conference to be informative. It has been brought to my attention that OR models and procedures help in decision-making in uncertain settings by analyzing many possible outcomes and assigning probabilities to them. This motivates him to perform risk assessments and think of better ways to deal with problems that have emerged or that the business may encounter. I now understand the importance of optimization problems like the Vehicle Routine problem, and how OR can be used to create more efficient techniques for selecting the most cost-effective and efficient routine to maximize the company's profit.

Your assistance was crucial to my participation in the conference and enriched my experience. I sincerely appreciate your dedication to empowering individuals like me and contributing to our professional development. Attending the conference improved my research skills and inspired me to enlist in an OR master's degree next year." Hannah Jarvis writes, "Thank you so much for the sponsorship which allowed for me to attend the 52 nd annual Operations Research Conference in Hartbeespoort. I had the incredible opportunity to share my Honours project involving the mobile clinics in the Witzenberg region in the Western Cape. I received very valuable feedback and compliments that will stick with me for years. The questions asked showed me the great interest in this project and gave me extra insights into additional factors that I should be considering. I will be using this experience to help guide my preparation for my presentation on this work at the end of the year.

The great span and depth of knowledge that was shared during this conference was so inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how OR could be applied to such a range of diverse topics, from scheduling the Formula 1 race calendar, to bin packing problems and even the Sermon on the Mount! I am very interested in seeing how much in reality I must compromise on my personality to find romantic happiness.

Being able to engage with people from other universities as well as in industry was very enlightening. The connections initiated engaging conversations that sparked new thoughts for which I am grateful. One of the most encouraging things was being in an environment where I was completely surrounded by people who knew what my degree was about, and for a change I did not have to try and find a suitable explanation.

In all, the ORSSA 2023 conference gave me an opportunity to take a better look at the OR community and broadened my horizons on just how diverse the field of OR is. Thank you so much again for allowing me this great opportunity."

Michaela Budge writes, "I would like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity that you gave me. I absolutely loved going to the ORSSA conference in Hartebeesport this year.

It was really awesome to be in a room surrounded by other students and industry leaders who roughly know the work we do, who we don't have to explain the nature of our degree to, and who understand things in a similar way to how I understand them. It was an incredible experience to be able to hear about all the work that is going on in our field, and how valued our research is.

It was also really amazing to be surrounded by such influential people, who think of amazing strategies and implementations of OR in such a variety of fields. I have always loved how diverse the OR field is, and it was great to have these thoughts reaffirmed. It was also fun to learn about and work in the environment in a way that is different, and more relaxed than our standard lectures. I really appreciate opportunity, and I look forward to being an active member in this society."

Emma Davis writes, "First and foremost, I would like to thank you very much for the sponsorship to attend the 2023 ORSSA conference. What an incredible experience it was. I am so grateful to have been provided with the amazing opportunity to grow and learn from others who attended the conference, share my research, and hear from others their thoughts on it for me to consider and further investigate.

We were fortunate to be able to listen to all the presentations, rather than having parallel sessions. This allowed me to be exposed to and learn about areas that I do not have much experience in, such as language models and machine learning. The presentations that I could connect with, such as loadshedding and clustering techniques, were very interesting as I knew a fair amount of information about these fields. I was nervous about my presentation at the start. I felt that it went well, and I will be less nervous next time as I know what to expect. I will also try not to use cue cards in the future.

This conference was both an educational and enjoyable experience. I got to network with other students from various universities and talk to individuals in the corporate environment. It was very interesting hearing the way other universities run and what other students are planning for their future."

Sha-abaan Slamang writes, "This year was my second time attending the ORSSA Conference where I will be presenting on my master’s research. It was quite nerve recking knowing that I will be presenting on research that is 99% completed. I was excited to fly across the country thanks to the SACNASP student sponsorship.

The conference had a relaxed and “chilled” vibe to it. I was very optimist and thought let’s attempt the Elytica tutorial, and for someone who is not heavy on the mathematics this might a big learning curve and once the competition start, this was my time to tap out and socialise.

My highlight from the conference was Robert Bennetto’s practical application of OR techniques to solving his security complex’s solar panel battle to eliminate loadshedding. His talk took use through his thoughts pattern in combatting this problem. Following Robert’s talk about solar panel and the electricity crisis my runner up was surprising the multiple VRP’s that was presented. The reason behind this was after the conference, I went to go visit Shoprite’s Export DC and their country-store mapping all I could see was VRP problems to solve.

My overall experience at the conference this year was lovely. The conference provided an opportunity to learn about multiple other OR techniques (clustering, game theory, and differential equations). It was an privilege to interact with OR practitioners either in industry or academia. I highly recommend attending the next ORSSA Conference and getting involved with the ORSSA community!"

Hendrik Snyman writes, "I want to thank ORSSA for the generous sponsorship of their 52nd annual conference. The sponsorship had an impact far beyond the financial support as it opened the possibility of broadening my knowledge of various literature and industries. I have learned vastly from the presentations and casual interactions with the conference delegates."

Hendrik also impressed as the winner of the Elytica modelling competition hosted during the conference tutorial.

Professor Fanie Terblanche of Elytica congratulates Hendrik Snyman as the winner of the ORSSA 2023 modelling competition.

If you would like to sponsor students to attend the next ORSSA conference, contact the Society Secretary today for a copy of the latest sponsorship prospectus!

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