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CANA at the MORS Emerging Techniques Forum 2020

In early December of 2020, several CANA team members participated in the virtual MORS Emerging Techniques Forum (ETF). Norm Reitter and Renee Carlucci acted as judges for the Visco Prize competition. Walt DeGrange helped with the organization of the event and led a Birds of a Feather discussion on adapting when analytics projects don’t go as planned. Several CANA members, myself included, enjoyed attending briefs and networking throughout the event.

A Timely Theme by Lucia Darrow

Emerging techniques are often the product of a pressing need for innovation. In 2020 there was no shortage of challenges that required fast and thorough analytical solutions. As such, it was no surprise that the ETF incorporated these ideas into this year’s theme:

“2020 ETF seeks advancements in tools and techniques that enable decisive action in complex environments.”

Tracks covered topics such as predicting irregular events and measuring resilience, with many talks addressing uncertainty and risk management.

Coming from a graduate research background in systems resilience, I was particularly interested in talks within the Systems in Crisis track. It was fascinating to see how the MORS community approached risk management questions with data-driven solutions using methods such as optimization and predictive modeling. The conference talks were accompanied by several fantastic plenary and keynote speakers covering topics from analysis during the pandemic to cybersecurity.

Visco Prize Competition by Renee Carlucci

In addition to the various tracks, Norm Reitter and I judged the Visco Price competition.

The Eugene P. Visco prize was established in March 2019 to honor and to memorialize Gene Visco, FS, who was an ardent supporter of collaboration within the international operations research community and for years represented MORS during the ISMOR. Gene was also a constant supporter of MORS junior analysts and a champion for quality presentations.

The purpose of this prize is to promote collaboration between the international operations research community and MORS by providing a high-quality presentation selected at the annual Emerging Techniques Forum (ETF) to the International Symposium on Military Operational Research (ISMOR) every year. This prize will provide a Junior Analyst the opportunity to present at the ISMOR, held in the United Kingdom every summer. The selected presenter will be provided admission to the ISMOR along with housing and travel expenses.

Gene Visco was well represented in spirit through six great presentations featuring junior analysts at this year’s virtual ETF. A common theme seemed to be artificial intelligence since machine learning was a featured technique in four of the six presentations. MAJ Jaison Desai, Ph.D., had the winning presentation on “Determination of Influential Factors on Roadway Bridge Sufficiency Using Inspection Data and LASSO: A Proof-of-Concept”. While most existing work using data on our aging bridge infrastructure has focused on optimizing the use of bridge inspectors, MAJ Desai’s work used machine learning to determine what factors are most important for bridge management.

In summary

Altogether the MORS ETF delivered! Delivered interesting and engaging tracks, delivered opportunities for leadership and participation to this CANA team, and most of all delivered consistency - even though virtual - in providing yet another high-quality conference. If you are interested in learning more about MORS events and conferences, you can visit their website at


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Lucia Darrow

Is a Senior Operations Research Analyst at CANA Advisors and can be reached through her LinkedIn profile, or via

Renee Carlucci

Is a Principal Operations Research Analyst at CANA Advisors and can be reached through her LinkedIn profile, or via email at


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