Report from the President - 2015
Through 2015, ASOR National's foci has been on the two annual conferences (Recent Advances, and the National Conference), on re-instituting our awards (the Ren Potts and Rising Star awards), and on continuing to improve the ASOR member's experience.
The 2015 National conference, joint with DORS and MODSIM, was held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre and was a great success. There were around 70 papers in the ASOR streams. The bi-annual partnering with MSSANZ, the main organiser of MODSIM, is working well for ASOR and I hope to see this continue in the 2017 instalment of MODSIM. In 2016, Hussein Abbass and the ASOR Canberra team will be hosting the National Conference and joining up once again with DORS.
2015 Recent Advances mini-conference was held at RMIT in February 2015, and the 2016 Recent Advances mini-conference is underway today at Monash University and across other sites nationally via video conferencing. The 2016 Recent Advances spans a full two days of presentation, and is greatly benefiting from a newly-invigorated connection with CSIRO Data61, which is a merger of CSIRO Digital Productivity and NICTA.
More improvements have taken place on the national website. We now have a twitter presence via @ASOR_news set up by Amie Albrecht, and which was particularly active during MODSIM. Late in 2015 the National Committee agreed on a national membership structure and administration approach, and we will be rolling this out for new members imminently.
ASOR has an ongoing challenge staying relevant, providing value to members, and attracting (volunteer) inputs to our services and activities. For the 2016 committee, meeting this challenge will need to be a top priority.
Finally, in early 2015 Kaye Marion, our long-serving treasurer, was forced to vacate her position due to illness. Kaye has been doing well, and on behalf of ASOR I wish Kaye the best of health and a great thank you for her contribution over many years.
Dr Simon Dunstall, National President ASOR, 31 March 2016
Report from the President - 2014
ASOR has maintained its membership level through 2014. Financially ASOR is in good health due to previous conference receipts. We are spending these reserves in a strategic and conservative fashion through activities which promote OR nationally, including opportunities for branches to seek support on specific projects. ASOR also continues to aim to increase links with ORSNZ, which it has begun with support to three delegates including keynote Andrew Mason at the ASOR Recent Advances Conference in 2015.
This year we have seen improvements in the national website due to good work by Andy Wong, and some renewed work on promoting the Bulletin as a proper journal. ASOR Canberra is in the process of being re-started (led by Hussein Abbas) and the ASOR WA branch is once more financial and in contact. In 2014 teleconferences ensured ASOR members of the Melbourne branch in South Australia and NSW also fully participated in ASOR seminar events, with meetings commonly attracting 40 or more members to hear seminars sent from various sites. It is hoped this will be extended to all branches in future. In 2014, national committee meetings have been held monthly in contrast to previous years where at most two meeting occurred and this has helped bring branches together. Progress is already clear on issues like uniform membership policies including fee structures and maintaining a better membership list for a single newsletter.
The prospective conferences to work on now include
- 2015 (February) ASOR Recent Advances, rescheduled from late 2014 due to problems with Video Conferencing arrangements
- 2015 With MODSIM & DORS Gold Coast (Sunday 29/11 – Friday 4/12)
- 2016 An expanded Recent Advances type conference for ASOR to be held under National assistance possibly in QLD, SA or NSW/ACT. This will be looked at and decided within the coming half year. As with 2015 this may involve teleconferencing at multiple sites.
- 2017 IFORS is to be held in July in Quebec City, Canada. This may affect timing of any local conferences.
- 2017 MODSIM offers another opportunity for embedding ASOR if 2015 is successful as 2013 was.
ASOR and the National committee farewelled Natashia Boland, President from late 2013 to mid-2015, on her migration to the US to take up an appointment at Georgia Tech. Natashia made a significant contribution to OR in Australia and will certainly be missed. We also thank Paul Gaertner for his work as National President for 2012-2013.
Dr Simon Dunstall,
National President, ASOR
9 February 2015 (updated 1 September 2015)
Report from the President - 2013
The last year at ASOR has seen a good stable growth in membership continuing the trend of the past two years since the IFORS conference in 2011. At present the various branches have a total of 162 members in Victorian, Queensland, Western Australian and ACT branches. The South Australian branch is currently not operational and many members of that branch have joined the Melbourne chapter instead. This is also the case with NSW with most members in Newcastle now joining with the Victorian branch in Melbourne.
There has been strong activity reported from each of the Victorian and Queensland branches with regular meetings and seminars. In particular the use of the Access Grid Rooms in RMIT in Melbourne and Newcastle has led to regular monthly talks attended by more than 40 members usually. It has been a pleasing development that talks may be sent from either campus and on occasions members in other states have joined in to observe the talks. This development is being encouraged as a way for our wide spread membership to get more benefit from joining. In fact the annual Recent Advances Workshop at the end of 2012 saw talks given from each of RMIT in Melbourne, Newcastle and South Australia. It has been suggested that individuals may be able to access these talks on their own computers and this would make for even better coverage. This will be looked at in future as it is clear that regular frequent contact with events and with each other has assisted the membership growth and particularly reached out to the student group more.
The de facto merging of branches may lead to a more national approach than has existed in past. While no decision has been made to close branches in NSW and South Australia, most of their funds have been transferred to the national body in itemised accounts for safekeeping while members decide on future policy. A similar decision may be made by ACT members in future. There is no provision yet to create a single national branch but it has been suggested in past and may be an issue to look at in future. The two strong branches are encouraged to take in those who wish to join them from interstate.
The embedding of the national conference this year in MODSIM at Adelaide has proved a success with good attendance and support particularly from the Defence OR sector. The financial success of this will benefit the society in future. This is not the first time we have embedded the national conference as this occurred in 1997 with APORS in Melbourne, 2003 with ICIAM in Sydney and 2011 with IFORS in Melbourne. Some reservations on doing this each time have been expressed so it may be that we maintain individual national conferences on an alternating basis.
National finances are strong at present as are those in the functional branches. These will be used to benefit members in an ongoing basis.
While newsletters and email lists have been used to continue interaction between members and allow dissemination of reports on meetings planned and past, the society ASOR Bulletin has yet to work as hoped. The issue of whether to expand its role to a full journal or use it largely as an expanded national newsletter is yet to be resolved. The editors report great difficulty in attracting papers especially linked to recent policy on ranking of publications used for research and this will be an ongoing concern which needs to be addressed.
The web presence of the society is also of some concern with occasional dated material not being corrected. In fact the various state web pages and national web page need to be linked and updated to ensure the public image of the society is strong and relevant. This will also be an issue for the next committee.
Dr Paul Gaertner
National President, ASOR