M.S. Applied Mathematics
Modeling and Simulation Analyst
I am a Modeling and Simulation Analyst in the Operations Research department at Dynamics Research Corporation (DRC). Operations Research is the science of decision making. Sometimes decision problems can be solved using mathematical equations; however, sometimes either the situation is too detailed for a math model alone or the customer prefers a more visual product. That is where simulation comes in. We write a computer program called a simulation model to simulate the processes which compose the problem. The model can be used by decision makers to test different scenarios and quickly determine the best solution for their problem. Sometimes optimization is implemented into the simulation model to automatically find the best solution
One example of a project that I worked on is one where we built a model to simulate security events on an Air Force base in order to help planners determine the impact of the security force manning and vehicle assignments. My favorite part of the project was visiting the Air Force base which was necessary to understand the details of the security force operations.
I graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and a minor in Information Systems. I then went on to get a Master's degree in Applied Mathematics from Western Michigan University. I never studied simulation in school and before coming to DRC I had never programmed with the programming language that I am using now. My boss, however, knew that if I could learn math that I would be able to quickly learn the skills needed for this job. Skill sets that I use the most are statistics, computer programming, database manipulation, problem solving, and technical writing.
I enjoy my job because building a simulation model is similar to solving a puzzle or a math problem (which I of course enjoy doing). All of the pieces must fit together just right and after I've figured out how they fit together, I have a working simulation model which I can proudly present to my customer.