Engineering management student presents research at national conference

MALVERN, Pa. — A research assistantship in Penn State Great Valley’s big data lab recently afforded Samarth Patel the opportunity to present at a national conference.

An international student in the Master of Engineering Management program, Patel started working with Robin Qiu, professor of information science, and Ashkan Negahban, assistant professor of engineering management, in February to analyze data from New York City’s bike sharing system, CitiBike.

Patel explored the benefits of an incentive-based rebalancing scheme for CitiBike, where riders would receive discounted rates to pick up bikes at nearby stations with greater inventory.

To determine this, he used Simio, a simulation software, to create a model of the Citibike system using a customized station object to measure balking rates and profit. He compared the rates when 5 to 20 percent discounts were offered for riders to pick up bikes from a station within a half mile radius. Based on the research, offering discount incentives would help CitiBike reduce the need to reconfigure stations within the entire system.

In October, Patel traveled to Houston to present at the annual meeting for the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). He was the only Great Valley student to attend. While at the conference, he was able to meet and network with representatives from Simio, Tableau, and IBM.

“Presenting at the INFORMS meeting was an incredible experience,” said Patel. “This was the first conference I’ve ever attended. It was a great networking opportunity and allowed me share my research in a professional setting. By working in Great Valley’s big data lab, I’ve gained real-world experience that I can apply to a career in data analytics or engineering.”

Originally from India, Patel enrolled in the engineering management program in fall of 2016. As a student, he also earned professional development certificates in Lean Six Sigma and agile business analysis, and worked as a teaching assistant with Robin Qiu for World Campus. Patel used his Citibike research for his graduate thesis, and will graduate in December.