University of Maryland University College Data Analytics Team Reaches Final of INFORMS OR and Analytics Competition

It Is the Only Team From the United States to Compete in the April 15 Final in Austin, Texas

Adelphi, Md. (March 27, 2019)—A team of five University of Maryland University College students in the Master of Science in Data Analytics (MSDA) program advanced to the final round of the INFORMS O.R. and Analytics competition.

UMUC’s was among 292 teams from 25 countries that competed and was the only entry from the United States to reach the final round. Members of the UMUC team include Jakob Adams, Rachel Brame, Conrad Wong Gonzalez, Kim Ngan, Nguyen Phuoc, and Vinod Ramachandran. Their faculty coaches included Ed Herranz and Steve Knode.

Teams in this year’s competition were challenged to use their operations research and data analytics skills to help General Motors analyze how autonomous vehicles may dramatically change the company’s operating processes and systems for delivering finished vehicles. The challenge involved designing a “next-generation” vehicle delivery network, including the routing for each combination of vehicle-from-plant-to distribution center-to dealer. The objective was to minimize total costs while satisfying all constraints. Students were provided with GM datasets, as well as access to company technical and management personnel.

“As an organization that has benefited from the implementation of a strong O.R. and analytics program, General Motors is thrilled to support the next generation of O.R. and analytics professionals, and better prepare them for future careers by challenging them to solve a difficult problem we face in our industry,” said Jon Owen, director of the Advanced Analytics COE at General Motors.

A panel of 18 judges that included industry experts and academic leaders reviewed each team’s written submission, evaluating their analytics process, including problem framing, methodology selection, data use, model building and quantitative analysis.

“I am thrilled that the MSDA team made it to the final six, out of 292 teams,” said Dr. Elena Gortcheva, program chair for the data analytics master’s program at UMUC. “The challenge presented by GM was extremely complex and difficult. This result is a shining example of the high abilities of our students and their commitment to work together as a team to solve real-world industry problems.”

In addition to UMUC, the five other finalists include Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea; the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel; Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) in South Korea; Tilburg University in The Netherlands; and the University of Belgrade in Serbia.

The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference on April 15 in Austin, Texas.