A Blast From the Past: 10 Years of the New Era!

Paula Penagos
University of Missouri - St. Louis

Ten years of the new era! (Yes, OR/MS Tomorrow has existed for more than ten years)! We are celebrating and eager to share part of our past with you, and maybe share some future insights. It brings us immense joy to have you as a part of our dedicated readership, and for those who have been a part of our editorial family, we extend our heartfelt gratitude - THANK YOU! The journey of the past decade, marked by transformation, evolution, and the profound ideas we’ve brought to light, has been nothing short of extraordinary. We are optimistic that many more exciting chapters are yet to be written. Below, we present a snapshot of our history, showcasing the diverse range of topics that have graced our pages over the years. It is proof of our commitment to delivering informative and engaging content to our readers. Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey.

We are celebrating 10 years and we wanted to understand the path of the magazine. However, in the journey, we realized the magazine had existed for longer than 10 years. To be honest, we don’t even know exactly how long, maybe 1997 (a good moment to remind you that storing data is quite important sometimes), so we will celebrate the 10 years of the new era. The era since we have records and issues posted on our webpage (if you haven’t checked them out yet, it is always good to know how thinking has evolved and maybe find some inspiration for future research). This new era has been a blast for our members, our readers, and the INFORMS community! Although we are not sure how the magazine came to life, we are certain that it is giving nowadays students the opportunity to speak up and raise their voice. Tracy Cahall, the INFORMS Member Engagement Manager, told us that students are almost 28% of the total INFORMS member population. This big community needed a space to express themselves, to simplify the world of OR, MS, and analytics to regular words, and an opportunity to put into practice their skills, network, and connect with both the industry and academic side.

"Joining the team meant attending late-night meetings due to the time difference from India, yet the positive energy of the team made the odd timing inconsequential. Whenever I chime in with ’It’s 12:30 am or 1 am here,’ in response to their customary ’What time is it there?’ query, I’m always met with their amused chorus of ’Oh, that’s quite late!’"
- Nandan Kumar Singh(2022-present)

The magazine has also served as a sensor. Yes! A sensor of topics, interests, and needs that students all over the world have and since we are an important part of the membership, it provides insights to the INFORMS community on how to make us engage, what topics we like, what needs we have, and make us part of a vibrant, interesting, and amazing community.

This article allows us to acknowledge all these years of work and commitment, all the years of service and generation of Knowledge, and all those years of being a safe space for people like you (and me). But acknowledging all those outputs makes us remember the most important part of this project: the students, professors, and industry professionals who have contributed with their time, efforts, and experience to shaping more than 15 issues full of amazing things.

The issues have changed significantly in format, colors, content, and frequency; the magazine has learned how to adapt. It started as a newsletter without regular publishing frequency and then, transitioned to a virtual magazine with two main issues a year. The first online issue in the record (Summer 2013) has yellow-colored pages written in one-column format. Then in 2014 pages’ colors changed, three columns were incorporated, and in 2017 our logo changed to the one we still use today.

What all these issues have in common is the new and relevant topics included, from stochastic modeling to the development of OR in Africa, consumer returns, machine learning (questioning if it was really a hero in OR/MS and some of its applications), game theory applications, and the use of OR in the “saving lives” moto. Our issues have always included an interview with a distinguished professor or relevant practitioner and highlighted the participation and growth of all the INFORMS student chapters around the world.

Old logo

"Working with amazing students and Kara to develop manuscripts/articles that impact different areas of society."

- Egbe-Etu Emmanuel Etu (2020-2022)

The magazine has transitioned for the better. Every day there is more and more improvement. we always strive for the best, and we try to acknowledge what is needed and when it is needed, not only in the research part, but what students as human beings and the future of this field are going through.

One of the most important series in this regard has been "What Nobody Likes to Discuss, But We Are All Starting to Care About: Mental Health in Graduate School” (see Fall/Winter 2022). When asking former members about the articles they considered were our outstanding contributions, this series came into the conversation. As graduate students (and if you are at the undergraduate level or you are already in what we call the sweet life – having a job and more stability- it also applies to you), we have been living with pressures, burnouts, impostor syndrome, doubts, but also happiness and victories. We have been there and I can say I firmly believe knowing that others are going through the same you are feels refreshing. I was not even part of the magazine at that moment and when reading the articles, I appreciated the tips, the recognition, the feeling of not being alone and knowing that things get better and there is a community cheering you up (even in the distance and virtually). Beyond articles, we have hosted competitions highlighting our readers’ contributions: the crossword puzzle and the mini-poster competition. They have also been a blast! From undergrads to senior Ph.D. Students, we have contributions and winners of all types. Some of those articles and competitions have been the ones that have motivated students to join our board and start creating content. Dr. El-Adle, now a professor, remembers how the first article he read from OR/MS Tomorrow was about how to get your first job. One of his professors recommended reading it. After that, he joined the magazine to keep working and keeping the legacy alive. Nowadays, he still reads our articles and remembers how the magazine helped him connect during the conferences and improve his skill sets.

"Interactions during collaborating on writing articles, particularly writing the first article with Abigail, Zoom discussions with Etu, and overleaf chats with Sofia. The associated banter was very refreshing and fun."
- Mihir Mehta (2021-2022)

I have to be honest. It is amazing to see how people all over the world, in different time zones, with different backgrounds, and multiple future plans can be united and build a family around OR/MS, student life, and the desire to be the change we want to be outside. I interviewed some of our former and current members, and their words are below. In summary, they remember the magazine with gratitude, the people they worked with are now colleagues, the articles they wrote are now legacy, and they keep inspiring their students, their colleagues, and their teammates to read us and connect with us.

Last but not least, we have put some emphasis on futuristic technologies. It started with machine learning, some key concepts on modeling innovations, artificial intelligence, and more are coming. We have witnessed 10 years of growth and contributions and would like you to think how you imagine this magazine in 10 years down the road (I really want you to take a moment and do it, please). I did the same with all our interviewees. It was funny for me to hear every single time that all of them agreed hoping that the ones writing and reading this content would be human beings. They want to see the magazine keep evolving, getting to further places, growing, incorporating DOIs into our articles (fingers crossed that will happen soon), and bringing more and more students to this community that was built by students for students. Reach out! We would love to have you on board and well. . . keep reading us, you are the main reason why we dedicate our time and energy to simplify weird, complex, or transcendental topics into easy words and highlight from different backgrounds and different skill sets what OR/MS is. If you love finance, energy, supply chain, transportation, health care, humanitarian logistics, public policy, or even other fields we have not covered (but we hope we will), stay tuned and keep reading with us for the next 10 years and on!

To the staff: "keep the amazing work! People read and pay attention."
- Amro M. El-Adle (2021-2021)

Acknowledgments: I want to take a moment to thank all those professors who have been an important part of the magazine’s growth, to our INFORMS liaisons for helping us understand and navigate the world and guide our steps in the publication, to all our former members to make this 10 years possible and to our current members for contributing with their work to make the next 10 years look bright ahead, and to all of our readers for interact with us. Special thanks to Dr. David Czerwinski for advising us in this journey for the last 5 years, and Kara Tucker and Tracy Cahall for linking us to the broader INFORMS world. Also, thank you Kara Combs for reviewing this article. 

Virtual meeting 5-5-2023 (1)