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ORSSA and AFROS host a fantastic online conference collaboration

Updated: Apr 5

by Marius Smuts

The 50th Annual Conference of the Operations Research Society of South Africa (ORSSA) in collaboration with AFROS (the African Federation of Operations Research Societies) kicked off on Sunday 12 September 2021 with a tutorial on Integrated Analytics presented by Prof Fanie Terblance, managing director of Elytica.

The rest of the conference programme commenced on Monday 13 September 2021 and concluded on Wednesday 15 September 2021 and contained a diverse set of session talks which stimulated a wide range of interests and led to fruitful discussions around the virtual tables. The presentations tied in with the conference theme “Analytics for sustainability” and the importance and presence of Operations Research (OR) was clear in the fields of Energy, Logistics, Health care and Finance to name only a few.

There were four distinguished keynote speakers that spoke during the plenary sessions at this year’s conference namely:

  • Prof Gerda Claeskens from the research group OR & Statistics and the Leuven Statistical Research Center at KU Leuven in Belgium.

  • Prof Roelof Coetzer from the Department of Statistics at the North-West University.

  • Prof Laura Albert from the David Gustafson Department Chair of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • Prof Hatem Masri, a professor of business analytics and dean of the college of business administration at the university of Bahrain, Kingdom of Bahrain and also the president of AFROS.

In addition to the keynote speakers, there were also a special INFORMS session in which the following invited speakers gave presentations:

  • Emma Gibson is a PhD candidate at the MIT Operations Research Center

  • Prof Elise Miller-Hooks, Professor & Hazel Chair in Infrastructure Engineering at the George Mason University.

  • Dr Jorge Samayoa is the CEO of, a company dedicated to providing Data Science consulting services and he is also the director of the Operations Research Institute at Galileo University.

A special general talk was given by Kim Rozwadowski Triegaardt on Tuesday 14 September 2021. Kim is the niece of Tom Rozwadowski and gave personal insight into the man behind the medal at the prize giving ceremony.

Clearly, this was a special conference with many aspects to it and it would just be appropriate to shed some light on this event by giving some conference statistics:

  • There was a total of 93 presentations

  • There were 81 presentations spread across 3 parallel sessions

  • There were 4 keynote speakers, 3 invited speakers and 1 special speaker

  • There were 4 student competition presentations

  • The total number of delegates attending was just shy of 150

  • There were delegates from more than 15 countries and

  • The duration of the event was more than 25 hours online.

A conference like this, would not have been possible without the continuous support of all the sponsors:

  • Blue Stallion Technologies

  • Spatial Edge

  • The Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT)

  • The Department of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU)

  • The North-West University (NWU)

  • The NWU Centre for BMI

  • The NWU Department of Statistics

  • The NWU Pure and Applied analytics

  • The NWU School for Industrial Engineering

We were thankful that even amidst the global pandemic we had this opportunity to be able to engage with our peers in meaningful discussions on practical and theoretical aspects of our discipline, foster new partnerships in research collaboration, and even make a few new virtual friends along the way. We sincerely hope that it was a memorable online conference experience! Usually one would say travel safe, but for now stay safe and stay at home.

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