My MSc Research Project…

… by Lydia / from Birmingham / MSc Operational Research / PG

The sun is shining outside and here I am, sat in the library… the realities of dissertation period. Off to a negative start but don’t worry it‘s not all doom and gloom. With the freedom of planning our own working lives, we’ve managed to fit in a little sunbathing in the Meadows over this last week and lots of touristy activities to make the most of my last few months in Edinburgh (including a trip to see the sunset from Calton Hill).

This feels like the part in life when you have to adult and organise your own life. No longer being told when to go into Uni for lectures and when deadlines have to be reached; there is so much freedom in this final part of the taught MSc. However, it has surprised me how slow I have been in motivating myself. After burning out over the first 2 semesters, the urge to allow myself a looooooong break before beginning the dissertation has been strong. However, a month in and I’m finally making progress yay!

What I find helps the most is choosing an MSc project you’ll definitely enjoy. I know it sounds stupid to say, but with a busy semester 2 you can easily make a rash decision, without fully researching your intended topic. Be proactive! If you know what area of your subject interests you, approach the lecturer you feel specialises in that area. Even if they don’t have a project in that area they can offer, they’ll likely be able to point you in the direction of another lecturer who can offer something you’ll enjoy. This is so important when it comes to motivation to research the topic.

So, now I’ll try to summarise my project for those fellow maths geeks who may be reading…

My title is ‘Planar Maximal Covering and Circle Intersect Point Sets’. Essentially, let’s say we have a city where everybody requires access to phone signal. Seems like a very realistic idea, right? Now for this to happen we need to decide where it’s best to locate phone masts (otherwise known as telecommunications towers) so that every individual is ‘covered’ by a signal. I am looking into methodology to decide where it’s optimal to locate the towers and one of these methodologies is CIPS (Circle Intersect Point Sets). There are many other real life examples where planar maximal covering techniques are used but I think one is enough for today.

Thinking back to when I was learning maths during my time at school, I never considered its use in areas such as location problems. However, maths has its random uses that you don’t necessarily think of, yet are still extremely important in today’s world. This is why I love the field of OR, as you can really see mathematical knowledge coming to life. It’s also why I would recommend studying OR to anyone who enjoys Maths and wants a career in business. It’s a varied career path, solving real life problems and improving current working practise.

In less than 3 months’ time, I’ll get to apply all of this knowledge to my new job as an OR Analyst at British Airways, and I can’t wait! I never would’ve imagined I’d be the person advising BA on which aircraft to purchase, how to improve flight punctuality and how best to price flights. Yet these are just a few things that OR can help a business decide upon. I’m excited for a new chapter of my life.