As a visiting associate professor of management science, one of Jorge Vera's biggest challenges in coming to MIT has been teaching in a new language.
Since September, Chilean resident Vera has been teaching the Optimization Methods, a challenging — but ultimately rewarding — task, he says. “I enjoy teaching the course,” Vera says. “But I have to prepare double time for each class. It is hard to teach in a language that is not your mother language.”
Despite the challenges, Vera said he is confident the students are enjoying the course. “They participate and I am getting the feeling they are into it,” says Vera, whose expertise in the topic may have something to do with it.
Vera graduated as a Mathematical Engineer at the University of Chile in Santiago, Chile in 1986. He went on to Cornell University where he earned his PhD in Operations Research in 1992.
Back home in South America, Vera is a member of the faculty of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering of the School of Engineering at the Catholic University of Chile. In the past few years, he has primarily served an administrative role as the department chair. “It has been a change to be able to focus less on administrative duties and more on research and teaching again,” Vera says.
It was the research that drew him to MIT Sloan as much as anything else. Says Vera, “This was a good opportunity to meet colleagues in my research area.”
Vera had collaborated with MIT professors on past projects, but says the opportunity to come to Cambridge and immerse himself here was too good to pass. The eager Vera has “already beginning to discuss collaborations.”
Vera's primary work is operations research and operations management. In particular, he is interested in using mathematical models to aid decision making in industry.
His research has been focused on understanding factors and conditioning measures (which affect sensitivity), and the robustness of the solutions provided by the optimization model, particularly those used in real decisions. He is also interested in the complexity of algorithms.
Vera's research and consulting have been applied to the forest industry and he has also worked with the Chilean wine industry, among other areas. Currently, his research focuses on the use of robust optimization methodologies in supply chain problems in those application areas.
Vera and his family moved to Boston during the summer. The adjustment has been smooth and “is a good opportunity on all counts,” he says. “MIT Sloan gives so many opportunities to explore and opens so many new areas of knowledge.”