During the week of June 15th, several CANA team members attended the 88th Military Operations Research Society (MORS) Symposium, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme was “Multi-Discipline Analysis in National Security.” CANA was represented through a company demo, presentations in multiple working groups, individual awards, social events, and more. Our team members share their perspectives and key takeaways from an action-packed week at the MORS Symposium:
On Tuesday, Norm Reitter and I presented our work Force Closure Modeling to Support Multi-Mission Scenario Analysis to the Logistics, Reliability, and Maintainability working group. It was a great opportunity to represent impactful work done by one of our largest development teams at CANA. At the CANA Partner Demo, our team shared some of our commercial work using R’s Flexdashboard and gained valuable perspectives from attendees. Apart from missing the networking possibilities with an in-person event, I enjoyed the virtual format for ease of moving between presentations and the high attendance for the end of conference sessions. Several sessions tackled national issues head-on, spurring conversations on race, gender, and the current pandemic from an analytics perspective. With growing interest in Data Science across the MORS member base, it was exciting to see a wide variety of presentations and high attendance in the new Data Science Working Group.
I found out on Tuesday that I was awarded this year’s MORS Walker Award along with my PHALANX Magazine co-authors Dr. Sam Savage and Shaun Doheney. The award is given "to recognize the author(s) of the technical article judged to be the best published in PHALANX, The Magazine of Military Operations Research, during the previous calendar year." I’m humbled by this unexpected recognition. I presented a summary of our work on military readiness and recommendations at the Symposium on Wednesday, June 17th, to a packed (virtual) room of 47 attendees. I also have submitted a technical paper describing our recommended approach to the MORS Journal, and my team is going through the review process now. I always look forward to and enjoy the sharing of knowledge that takes place at the MORS Symposium, and I was impressed with how seamless and effective the virtual presentation format was. It was great to see old friends (virtually), and I do hope next year it will be possible to have the 89th MORS Symposium in person!
Despite being virtual due to COVID-19, I found the 88th MORS Symposium to be extremely well attended, with so many great presentations in the areas of Logistics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, and Data Visualization. I especially appreciated the Special Session on COVID-19 and all the work by colleagues in the DoD to try to anticipate where, when, and to what degree local civil authorities may request support from the DoD and to anticipate where, when, and to what degree commanders can begin “return to normal” activities within acceptable risk tolerances. There was a lively discussion on ethics and how or when we tell decision-makers that we do not have the data or math to support a decision. Finally, I was so proud to see CANA’s own Norm Reitter get inducted as a Fellow of the Military Operations Research Society. Congratulations to both Norm and Connor for their achievements!
It is always challenging to attend online conferences that were traditionally in-person events. The ability to instantly move from presentation to presentation was a major benefit. I typically make it a priority to attend at least one brief that is outside my area of expertise. This year I was able to attend five of those briefs. Gaining a different perspective from these presentations allows me to see connections that were not visible before. An excellent example of this during this year’s Symposium was a presentation on measuring how happy people are with the work they perform. This brief highlighted research into the area and techniques to survey people to determine their overall work satisfaction level. This provided me insights into improved ways to quantify qualitative data in future projects.
This year’s MORS Symposium was a big success for MORS - to pivot from in-person sessions to an all-virtual conference was a huge undertaking that the program team and staff took on seamlessly. I was thrilled to present some of our exciting modeling, simulation, and analysis work with Lucia Darrow to Working Group 17 - Logistics Reliability and Maintainability, and to chair our MORS Logistics Community of Practice session for a “Year in Review.” Added highlights of this MORS Symposium included Connor McLemore receiving this year’s Walker Award, presenting work with Lucia Darrow, participating in the Past President’s session, and seeing the great work that is being done across the MORS community. I look forward to the time when we can all be together again. The most honored and humbling experience for me this week was being inducted as the 85th Fellow of the Society and becoming part of a group of great MORSians whom I’ve admired for years.
This year’s 88th MORS Symposium was a new endeavor for the organization - hosting the symposium as a completely online event for the first time - and we thought it was a great experience for all of us involved. If you would like to learn more about MORS and its community visit MORS.org.