MyStemKits.com’s S.T.E.M Job of the Week: Operations Research Analyst

 In S.T.E.M Careers

For any corporation to be successful, it must be self-aware and willing to change and adapt. Knowing when and how to make changes, both within and beyond the walls of the corporation is vital to long-term success. Operations research analysts are the people corporations call to ensure they’re working at peak efficiency and in a way that is going to be successful for their company in the long run. This week, we investigate just how operations research analysts do their jobs and why they are vital to the corporations for which they work. This week we investigate the world of operations research analysts.

Operations research analysts are mathematical experts who use their skills to assist businesses and organizations solve problems and make decisions that affect the success of their operations. They have many responsibilities which include identifying problems, collecting and examining information, getting input from an entity’s employees, and using statistical analysis and simulations to analyze the data in order to develop solutions. The operations systems analyst will weigh the costs versus the benefits of various solutions before recommending one over another.

To be efficient, analysts must first identify and understand the problem to be solved or the processes to be improved. These analysts are involved in all aspects of an organization and have to collect relevant data from which to make their analysis. This data is generally collected from the field and/or interviews with clients or managers. This process equips them with the information they need to help managers decide how to allocate resources, develop production schedules, manage the supply chain, and set prices.
Operations research analysts use sophisticated computer software such as databases, statistical programs, and modeling packages, to analyze and solve problems. These mathematical programs are used to simulate current and future events and evaluate alternative courses of action. They also break down problems into their various parts and analyze the effect that different changes and circumstances would have on each of these parts.
Being an analyst is very challenging. It requires a variety of skills:

  • Analytical skills. Operations research analysts use a wide range of methods, such as forecasting, data mining, and statistical analysis, to examine and interpret data. They must determine the appropriate software packages and understand computer programming languages to design and develop new techniques and models.
  • Communication skills. Operations research analysts often present their data and conclusions to managers and other executives. They also need to communicate technical information to people without a technical background.
  • Critical-thinking skills. Operations research analysts must be able to figure out what information is relevant to their work. They also must be able to evaluate the costs and benefits of alternative solutions before making a recommendation.
  • Interpersonal skills. Operations research analysts typically work on teams. They also need to be able to convince managers and top executives to accept their recommendations.
  • Math skills. The models and methods used by operations research analysts are rooted in statistics, calculus, linear algebra, and other advanced mathematical disciplines.
  • Problem-solving skills. Operations research analysts need to be able to diagnose problems based on the information given to them by others. They then analyze relevant information to solve the problems.
  • Writing skills. Operations research analysts write memos, reports, and other documents explaining their findings

Operations research analysts employ techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, and mathematical optimization to ensure corporations arrive at optimal or near-optimal solutions to their complex problems. Because of its emphasis on human-technology interaction and its focus on practical applications, operations research intertwines with other disciplines. Notable of these disciplines are industrial engineering and operations management. It also integrates psychology and organization science. Operation research is often concerned with determining the maximum (gain) or minimum (loss) of real-world objectives.
As you can see, operations research is a definite need for any thriving organization and based on the statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for analysts will continue to rise. They predicted that between 2014 and 2024 the field will yield an employment growth of 30 percent. This increase will be much faster than the average growth of all occupations(16%).  During this period, it is estimated that 27,600 new jobs will need to be filled and we at MyStemKits will do everything within our reach to motivate and educate our future analysts. Below are our kits that will assist with producing future analysts.
Operations research analyst is #10 on US News top 25 STEM jobs.

Logic Gate Stencil Kit

Introduce and easily build your own logic systems with this compact stencil. Perfect tool to help build a foundation for coding!

Binary Conversion Kit

Easily convert between binary and decimal number systems using this intuitive kit. Simply slide the numbers up or down to reveal 0s or 1s as well as the addends needed to equal the decimal number. The resulting 0s and 1s represent the number in binary. For instance binary number 00000101 = 4+1 = 5. For an additional extension, integrate magnets into the slots at the end to program your Binary Conversion Kit the same way a computer does! Includes trays to work with both small and large build volume printers.

Ocean Topography Mapping Kit

Map the ocean floor the way oceanographers would with our Ocean Topography Mapping Kit! Simply place a landform inside our labeled box and have your students determine the optimal method and sample size to determine the landform within. Includes specialized dice to generate random points within the grid. How many points must they sample before they can guess the landform?

Lionfish Sampling Kit

Although useful for a variety of subjects, we chose to highlight this kit on the merits of a particular lesson plan that accompanies it. This kit correlates to a Model Eliciting Activity, or MEA, which uses real-world scenarios to force the students to develop processes for solving problems in an ever-changing environment. This problem-based approached forces students to arise to unexpected challenges, develop solutions when there is no one right answer, and think out of the box to come to the best solution possible given limited data. Furthermore, students are challenged with writing out their proposed solutions and presenting them in a way that is easily understandable by their client. This type of lesson plan directly mirrors the sort of challenge operations research analysts are faced with daily.

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