Penn State Service Systems Engineering sponsors conference, student competition


By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Service Systems Engineering (SSE), housed within the College of Engineering, recently co-sponsored the 2021 Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Conference on Service Science that took place virtually Aug. 10-12. They also hosted the conference’s student paper competition.

As an international association, INFORMS holds numerous meetings throughout the year to bring together professionals from a wide range of disciplines — including operations research, analytics, management science, economics, behavioral science, statistics, artificial intelligence (AI), data science and applied mathematics.

In addition to these meetings, the program committee organizes an annual conference focused on varying areas of service science research, education and applications. This year’s theme was “AI and Analytics for Smart Cities and Service Systems.” According to the conference website, this theme aimed to promote the development of healthy and strong communities and protect the health of those communities, nationally and internationally.

Paul Griffin, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at Penn State, was featured as an invited plenary speaker and delivered a talk titled “Health Care Systems Science: Are We Solving the Right Problems?” Focusing on opportunities and challenges within the health care systems science sector, Griffin spoke about health analytics and AI and how these factors can make a greater impact within the field.

According to Chris DeFlitch, SSE advisory board member, vice president and chief medical information officer at Penn State Health and practicing emergency physician at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, well-trained engineers play a vital role in the health care industry.

“The health care sector requires engineers trained in service systems engineering to improve productivity, increase patient quality of care and reduce costs,” DeFlitch said.

The health care sector is not the only one improved by service systems engineering and operations management, said Robin G. Qiu, an INFORMS Service Science conference chair, founding chair of the INFORMS Service Science Section and professor of information science at Penn State Great Valley.

“INFORMS is one of the leading professional societies in which service systems engineering is an important application domain,” Qiu said. “This is evident by the number of high-quality papers in this year’s Best Service Science Student Paper competition.”

The annual student competition was sponsored by SSE, and the winning papers were:

  • First place: “Integrating Empirical Analysis into Analytical Framework: An Integrated Model Structure for On-Demand Transportation,” by Yuliu Su, Singapore University of Technology and Design; Ying Xu, Singapore University of Technology and Design; Costas Courcoubetis, Singapore University of Technology and Design; and Shih-Fen Cheng, Singapore Management University.
  • Second place: “Patient Transfer Under Ambulance Offload Delays: An Approximate Dynamic Programming Approach,” by Wenqian Xing, Columbia University, and Cheng Hua, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
  • Third place: “COVID-19 Intervention Policy Optimization for the United States Using a Multi-Population Evolutionary Algorithm,” by Luning Bi, Iowa State University; Mohammad Fili, Iowa State University; and Guiping Hu, Iowa State University.

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