DiscovOR, launched this past academic year, was initiated by Dr. Eunhye Song, the Coca-Cola Foundation Early Career Professor and Assistant Professor at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. 

The primary goal of the DiscovOR program is to provide students with an overview idea of what operations research is and familiarize them with key concepts, such as randomness in real-world decision-making, queuing systems, and simulation. By doing so, the program seeks to spark students' imagination and instill a passion for STEM fields, paving the way for the future generation of problem solvers. There were about twenty students in total that participated from FCS Innovation Academy at Alpharetta. 

ISyE students Angelique Andimarala, Leann Ayesh, John Binek, Julianna Mannarelli, Erin E Prusener, and Yichen Ma, all played pivotal roles in leading the program. Their eagerness to share their knowledge and passion for teaching has contributed significantly to the program’s inaugural success. 

The DiscovOR program employs innovative strategies and methodologies to make learning interactive and engaging. In Binek's class, the students are instructed to physically line up for a service and they could observe with high variability in service time, even with the same mean, the line builds up longer on average than when there is little variability.  

Binek describes their approach stating, "We conducted in-class activities to demonstrate queuing systems and their dynamics. Additionally, we utilized simulation software called Simio, allowing students to visualize complex server systems." 

These types of modules not only made the learning process enjoyable but also enabled students to comprehend the practical applications of operations research. With each iteration, the program will aim to inspire more students, nurture their passion for STEM, and contribute to a brighter future driven by problem-solving and innovation. 

"The students had a great time participating in both the physical queuing system and the simulation software activities. It was inspiring to see their enthusiasm and engagement." says Andimarala. 

The DiscovOR program represents the power of educational initiatives in shaping young minds, fostering a love for learning, and propelling students towards impactful careers in operations research. 

Yichen Ma shared his hopes for the program, stating, "Not many other universities have an industrial engineering program like Georgia Tech. ISyE is considered the top program in the nation, and I want high school students to know it is an option to consider." 

Dr. Song plans to expand the program by annually recruiting ISyE undergrads to develop and teach learning modules. The aim is to establish a database of these modules, allowing high school teachers in the Atlanta area to easily integrate them into their engineering classes for teaching operations research. While this year's program was a pilot, the goal is to reach more local high schools and fulfill the community's need for early STEM education. 

DiscovOR is supported by the National Science Foundation CAREER Grant CMMI-2045400.


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Nat M. Esparza, Communications Officer II