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  • By Geoff Hook
  • In Blog
  • Posted 05/03/2012

As this year’s entries are judged, Geoff Hook explains how you can take part in next year’s awards

It's that time again, judging the annual OR Society competition for the best MSC project. As has become the 'norm', the UK Universities offering Operational Research courses have again produced some excellent candidates. The projects are all based on real work in major organisations both in the UK and abroad. The topics are of real concern to those businesses and not just manufactured for academic reasons.

The May Hicks Award is awarded by the Operational Research Society and was instituted as a result of a bequest by Mrs Hicks, whose husband Donald was a past treasurer of the society and a patron of OR in the National Coal Board. I have been involved in judging the OR Society May Hicks Award for nearly ten years, the award is for the best student project and the entrants are always of a very high quality. As a practitioner myself I see the importance in students getting the opportunity to 'cut their teeth' on client based projects, this is really valuable experience in preparing for a consultancy or 'in-house' OR role.

Steve Waterman, a MSc Operational Research student at Southampton won the first prize last year (2011), Steve's work for Virgin Media was of excellent quality, but it was his ability to navigate through a difficult problem and produce valuable results in limited time that really does emphasize the value of the project phase of an OR MSC as ideal preparation for professional career in OR and business.

The rules for entry are as follows.

  1. Entries are invited from any eligible courses. Masters courses in O.R. or Management Sciences are automatically eligible. Other courses should, before contemplating entry, seek confirmation of their eligibility from the Society.
  2. Entries should be made by the Course Director or a faculty member acting on his/her behalf (and not by students direct). One entry per 15 students on the course, or part thereof, is allowed.
  3. Projects entered should be O.R. projects carried out for a client organisation (and not, for example, desk research carried out within the university). Joint projects are allowed.

The entries for 2012 are now of course closed, however I am sure many students are now beginning to plan their projects for this year, together with their supervisors and industrial clients. I wish these students good luck and look forward to evaluating the best of this year's crop in 2013.


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