Life at the ORC
Another distinctive feature of the ORC is its strongly cohesive and mutually supportive student group. This characteristic of the student population adds an important dimension to the quality of life and education at the ORC.
The ORC brings together over 54 affiliated faculty and approximately 70 graduate students. The small number of students results from a selective admissions process and reflects the faculty's desire to provide a highly interactive and well-supervised environment for education and research. The ORC admits approximately 12-15 students in any given year from an applicant pool of more than 200 individuals.
The Operations Research Center is the only interdepartmental center at MIT that both admits its own students and offers master's and doctoral degree programs. In both programs, students follow a core curriculum d
esigned for education in fundamental OR methods and for early entry in research. Students are encouraged to select a set of courses
that relates directly to their professional and research interests. The curriculum provides a strong background in the theoretical foundations of operations research and the practical techniques used in building models for a wide variety of applications.
The ORC provides a range of facilities to support is academic program, including excellent computing facilities, a reading room, a lounge area, kitchen area, and student offices with individual desks. Outside of the classroom, students maintain close informal contact with each other and with faculty members through such activities as an interactive seminar series, OR clinics and research colloquia, and social activities.
Currently, the ORC enrolls about 55 doctoral and around 12 master's degree students. Students represent a variety of academic backgrounds and nationalities, with approximately 50 percent from foreign countries. Approximately one-seventh of the students are women. Students at the ORC have strong quantitative backgrounds and often rank at the top of their undergraduate classes. Although academic performance is important, students generally have well-rounded interests. Students frequently organize social and athletic activities, including intramural sports teams, parties, and other informal social events.
ORC students are encouraged to participate in research activities early in their graduate careers, and introductory course work prepares them by covering the fundamental OR techniques. Many students support themselves by working as Research Assistants; however, there are many other opportunities, as well, for exposure to research. The various seminar series provide an introduction to a wide range of theoretical and applied OR topics. Discussions with individual faculty members can be instrumental in generating interest in research topics. A number of courses provide valuable practical experiences for students.
The physical arrangement of the ORC offices provides an environment conducive for students to develop both close friendships and strong supportive relationships. This environment encourages collaboration rather than competition. Today, the community of the ORC also extends nationwide, as our alumni continue research associations and friendships with each other and with MIT faculty.
The MIT Student Chapter of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) sponsors professional and social activities within the ORC and promotes widespread interest in operations research throughout the Institute. The INFORM Student Chapter organizes faculty-student interactions, including informal faculty seminars, OR practitioners seminar series, as well as numerous social events.