Mohammed Ali Aouad
Mohammed Ali Aouad
There are two aspects to the OR field, which I found extremely appealing after my undergraduate studies, and first work experiences. First, it offers the perspective of working on core problems facing society, which relate to algorithms, data and management. Second, while being very practical, the OR approach is about design, rather than engineering. It is thrilling to be at a place that contributes to the design of future technologies, policies and business models!
The ORC center connects to an extraordinarily diversified community of researchers. You will learn from faculty, but also from other students, with genuine intellectual drive, and maturity. Our recently renovated facilities have been a great enhancement to the community, as students constantly exchange with each other.
I enjoy living in the Boston area. It has a cosmopolitan spirit, but also the feel of authentic New England. Under its casual and residential traits, Cambridge is an exciting place for culture and social events.
To any prospective student, I recommend spending time to explore their motives to do research, and familiarize with the research conducted at the ORC. Your PhD is once in a lifetime experience!
Masters in OR Student
I chose the ORC due to its challenging academic environment, its research-based focus, and its community. As an ORC Masters student, I have access to a gamut of interesting courses, which have challenged me to pursue, in depth, different topics! The ORC’s emphasis on research allows us to apply and build upon what we learn while working with leaders in our respective fields. Since starting at the ORC, I’ve realized that the strength of the program goes beyond its academic repertoire. I have found tremendous value in learning within a strong peer network. We have an open-concept work space and combined with numerous social events, the ORC truly fosters an environment of collaboration and community. Everyone is willing to give a helping hand, and this type of collaboration yields the best ideas.
My experience at the ORC has been invaluable to my professional development, and it has been enhanced by being in the Cambridge area. Cambridge is an active hub for both urban events and even the outdoors! I would advise any prospective students to take the whole experience into consideration: The MIT ORC has so much to offer!
After studying 4 years in France, I decided to come to study in the United States. At first it was very difficult to choose between all the main programs in OR that the top universities had to offer. But the first day I spent with the ORC and the prospective students made me realize that the ORC was going to be my first choice. The incredible concentration of smart people working on such major and various issues is amazing. We are prepared to tackle a wide scope of problems and the fact that people are coming from different backgrounds is undoubtedly very helpful.
The spirit among the students and faculty is perfectly balanced to help you be the most efficient and productive you can be in your work. Finally, the ORC is one of the oldest program in OR and hence has one of the greatest group of researchers you can work and interact with. The Cambridge/Boston area is such a magnificent place to live. Every day we meet new students, working in different fields, having infinite ideas. If you want to make a start-up, work in the best companies in one field or become a professor, you will have all the choices. I feel that here, the horizon of possibilities is endless. Personally, the career opportunities of the students are a great indicator of a programs preparation for its students. From the ORC, you could go in every field you desire. If you show your enthusiasm and your skills that you have acquired during the program, recruiters know the standards of the ORC and its quality which will be a huge asset for your career.
The social life was also something which mattered a lot to me, and I discovered that ORC members are very well balanced. Sports, arts, and social activities are also part of our everyday life. But most important of all, people here are very friendly and welcoming which makes things so much easier, especially for a foreign student. I just arrived at MIT but it is incredible how time flies when you are here. You have so many things to experiment and develop and so many people to meet and talk to. I came to the ORC, knowing that I will be in one of the greatest places to try to become an expert in OR and work with brilliant minds; I know now that I was right. Come and visit the Center, I don’t doubt that you’ll feel the same.
Masters in OR Student
I chose the ORC because of its unparalleled academic rigor and because of the warm and welcoming community I experienced during the Open House. After one year, I can say with certainty that the ORC has exceeded my highest expectations. At an institute like MIT, and particularly within the ORC, people are passionate about what they do, and the possibilities are endless. Coming from an interdisciplinary background, I have been able to take challenging courses in a number of fields and attend seminars by people who are at the forefront of change in their respective disciplines. I constantly marvel at the breadth of the ORC—the courses, the research opportunities, the range of interests among faculty and students. As a Master’s student, I feel fortunate to be in a program that allows me to experience the full range of subjects I want to pursue while also participating in exciting research and preparing for a professional career after I graduate.
The community at the ORC was a very important factor in my decision process as well. I am lucky to be surrounded by ambitious and talented people who are also open-minded, grounded, and fun. Graduate school is challenging, but this community truly embodies the spirit of collaboration. Within the ORC, I have found an invaluable support network: people with whom I can discuss problem sets and research but also explore all the culture and excitement that Cambridge and Boston have to offer! The area plays host to museums, restaurants, bars, sports, art, and music. There is never a shortage of activities in which to partake or people with whom to share them. I am confident that I made the right choice in coming to the ORC. It is a vibrant place that encourages intellectual curiosity, collaboration, and a healthy balance of work and play. I highly recommend that prospective students come visit the ORC—so much of its appeal must be experienced in person!
Being a doctoral student in the Operations Research Center is getting the best of two worlds.
You are part of MIT — a vibrant community that offers endless possibilities. No matter what your interests are, you are likely to find people who excel at it. Whether you like sports, culture, entrepreneurship, socializing, the resources and infrastructures MIT will always meet your expectations.
But you are also part of the ORC: belonging to a human sized group with people who actually care about you. The nice office space makes it easy to exchange with other students and feel part of the community. And lots of them quickly become your friends. Funding is not an issue, you will find a project that fits you. ORC professors are among the leaders of their fields, but they will have time for you and have your best interests in mind.
Masters in OR Student
I decided to join the MIT OR Center because of its rigorous academic program and the strong student life. On both counts, it continues to exceed my expectations. I appreciate the ORC’s research-first mindset (especially as a Masters student with limited time), and I felt after the 1st year that coursework was challenging and well-paced. And the caliber of faculty and academic opportunities at a place like MIT can’t be overstated. In particular though, I enjoy the sense of community and constant collaboration that characterizes the OR Center. Being around so many bright minds has certainly enhanced my education, research, and broadened my intellectual horizons, besides being just a friendly place to work. For any incoming students, I highly recommend using the desk space at the ORC and taking advantage of this environment.
When I came to the ORC open house, I immediately felt at home. I longed for a graduate program to work on important, multidisciplinary problems in society, but also on a day-to-day basis incorporating my love of solving challenging theoretical problems I found in my engineering undergraduate studies. Operations Research was exactly what I was looking for.
The ORC is simply an incredible place to be a graduate student. There is a strong sense of community, and the students and faculty are incredibly helpful and welcoming. One of my favorite parts of the ORC is the desk space. New and senior students have desks interspersed, which facilitated so many valuable conversations and has enabled me to learn so much from those around me.
When I decided to apply to grad school after working in healthcare research for 2 years, I thought I wanted to study public policy because of my interest in areas like education, healthcare, and the environment. I soon realized that by pursuing a PhD in a methods-oriented field, I could potentially have an impact in all of these areas. Ultimately, I was deciding between an economics program and the ORC (the only OR program I had applied to). Four factors made my decision easy and have turned out to have a huge positive influence on my experience during my first 2+ years thus far in the program.
First, as an engineering field, OR has a prescriptive focus (i.e. modeling for the purpose of making actual decisions) unlike the largely descriptive focus of economics. Through my research and classes at the ORC, I have been able to work on problems in fields as diverse as healthcare, education, revenue management, sports, and inventory management. I am constantly amazed at the breadth of problems that ORC students and faculty work on and the creativity with which they approach these problems.
Second, the track record of the ORC and the quality of its faculty and students is superior to other programs in its field. Any time you can go to the “best ________ of its kind,” that’s a hard thing to turn down. I truly believe the ORC graduate program is the cream of the crop in the field of OR. This fact leads to both a great student experience while in the program and amazing career opportunities after graduating – whether in academia or industry.
Third, and most important, the ORC student community is such a warm, welcoming place. The spirit is collaborative and fun, not competitive like so many other graduate programs. Having supportive classmates has made a huge difference while taking challenging coursework during my first two years and navigating the ups and downs of a five-year PhD program.
Finally, as a native Bostonian I am certainly biased, but I think Boston/Cambridge is an amazing place to live. The concentration of so many graduate students and young professionals from all of the universities and important industries in the area makes for a culture full of interesting people to meet and fun things to do. Boston has everything you would want in a city while still being small enough to walk around and feel like you could see everything in one day.
With the opportunity to have a real-world impact, learn from the best faculty and students in the field of OR, and be part of an amazing culture within the ORC and the greater MIT/Cambridge/Boston communities, the ORC is the place for me – and I hope it will be for you too!
• Why should someone chose the MIT Operations Research Center?
You should choose the ORC if you want to study operations research in depth and have your career centered on leveraging data to bring values using tools such as optimization, analytics, statistics and machine learning. I choose the ORC because it has world-renowned faculty spread across all modern theoretical and application areas of operations research and analytics. It trains you to have a mindset in perfect balance between theoretical rigorous and practical importance. Most importantly, the ORC is indeed at the “center” of MIT due to its unique administrative structure where you can leverage resource from diverse departments at MIT.
• What are the strong points of the ORC?
The most unforgettable experience of being an ORC student is that you are challenged and supported every day by the peers and Faculty around you. This is unlike most other graduate programs whose students only work with their own advisors. At the ORC, research collaboration among students and other Faculty members are very common and greatly encouraged. You will have plenty of opportunities to learn and collaborate with your peers through course projects, research discussion and even co-organizing courses. I think this unique culture is what makes the ORC so special and successful.
• What's it like to live in Boston/Cambridge area?
For me, Boston is my favorite city even after visiting many places around the world. It is perfectly mixed. It is a college town which means you will have tons of opportunity to learn and enhance your intellectual capacity. It is a modern city which means you can enjoy city life by working 15 minutes from the campus. It is also a historical town where everything is decent and nice. I am sure you will love it after you come and regret leaving it after you graduate.
• What "tips" would you offer to a prospective student who is interested in applying to our OR program?
For the PhD program, developing interests and demonstrating your research capability in any related field in OR and analytics is most useful. ORC students usually come in with certain past research experience in a related field.
After working at an economic consulting firm for two years, I wanted to study and research at a program with a strong emphasis on solving problems that matter to society, using data-driven, innovative methods. Since coming to the ORC, I have been constantly impressed by the breadth and impact of the work that the faculty and students do here. The environment is extremely collaborative and friendly – even the desk space and study areas in the newly-renovated center are optimized for sharing of ideas.
Being a graduate student, living in Boston/Cambridge is super fun. The diverse and historic town has so much to offer that I am still exploring after living here for four years. Winter might be long, but the symphony orchestra, arts museums, sports games, good food and drinks will no doubt keep you busy and warm.