Operations Management

MIT Sloan research receives the 2019 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award


New approach to optimizing school bus routes and start times reduces bus fleet and enables reinvestment in schools

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 2019 –– Research conducted by MIT Sloan School of Management and PhD students Arthur Delarue and Sebastien Martin was recently selected as a finalist in the 2019 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Advanced Analytics, Operations Research, and Management Science. The winner will be announced during INFORMS Analytics conference taking place in Austin Texas, April 14-16, 2019. Their work with Boston Public Schools created a new approach to school bus routing and start times that reduced the bus fleet and enabled millions of dollars to be reinvested in the school system.

“We are excited to be selected as finalists for the Edelman award, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of Operations Research and Management Science. Determining what time to start and end school seems innocuous, but it can have negative health consequences for teenagers. Medical evidence shows that early start times are impacting the development of an entire generation of students and constitutes a major public health crisis. Our algorithm, which solves the school bus routing and bell time selection problem, can make a significant difference for students and school districts,” says Prof. Bertsimas.

Collaborating with Boston Public Schools, the MIT Sloan team utilized operations research to create and implement a school bus routing algorithm. They transformed a process that traditionally took 10 people more than 3,000 hours to one that can be completed in 30 minutes. The algorithm led to $5 million in yearly savings and maintain service quality despite a 50-bus fleet reduction.

Boston Public Schools used this same innovation in its efforts to re-align school bell times, which will lead to later start times for middle and high school students and earlier release times for elementary school students, allowing for a healthier and safer learning environment.

First awarded in 1972, the Franz Edelman Award recognizes and rewards outstanding contributions of analytics and operations research in the for- and nonprofit sectors around the globe. Each year, INFORMS honors finalist teams that have improved organizational efficiency, increased profits, brought better products to consumers, helped foster peace negotiations, and saved lives. Since its inception, the cumulative dollar benefits from Edelman finalist projects have surpassed $292 billion.

Click here for more information about the 2019 INFORMS Franz Edelman Award.

The MIT Sloan team’s paper, “Optimizing schools’ start time and bus routes,” appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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