Approximately 200 alumni, faculty, and guests of MS&E filled Huang Engineering Center at MS&E’s alumni reunion event on Saturday, October 26.
Alumni gathered to network, reminisce, and enjoy a series of short lectures and brunch. The lecture series kicked off with Professor and Chair of MS&E Nick Bambos, who articulated his vision for the future of the department, "MS&E 2030."
Engineers of the future, Prof. Bambos said, will need not only to design engineering platforms, but also to co-design social systems simultaneously. In fact, soon it will be unclear where the boundaries between engineering platforms and social systems lie. It is the task of engineers to implement this future, and MS&E is well-positioned to be a leader through that transformation because of its interdisciplinary nature.
On the theme of the future, three junior faculty members—the future of MS&E—presented their current research. Their talks provided alumni with an opportunity to get to know the newer faculty and research directions in the department, as two of the presenters—Guillaume Basse and Irene Lo—just began their MS&E careers this year. In addition to Profs. Basse and Lo, Prof. Sharad Goel shared an engaging talk on his recent work, and after the lecture series Prof. Jose Blanchet moderated a panel discussion and Q&A session with the audience.
Prof. Guillaume Basse described his research in experiment design. He presented various past experiments that were designed with now-documented flaws and their implications, including a study on women’s health that was terminated early due to safety concerns. He then showed how researchers can learn from past design flaws in order to create more meaningful experimental data in the future. He described a current open research question that he is working on, which is whether certain interventions in police procedure in Medellin, Columbia will affect the crime rate in the city and its various neighborhoods.
Prof. Irene Lo spoke about her research in market design, and particularly market design for social good. She described the intention of a social good market as getting the right resources to those who need them most. To that end, she seeks to utilize tools and best practices from existing markets into allocation-based markets, some of which don’t involve money. For example, Prof. Lo has researched and consulted for school choice systems in New York City and Boston, as well as in the farming communities of Indonesia, getting the right information to the right farmers to minimize wasted time and resources. She describes her work as being at the intersection of economics, computer science, and operations research, and her role as the OR expert in that context.
Prof. Sharad Goel shared his recent work that statistically investigates claims of a particular kind of voter fraud in the 2016 election, namely the alleged “millions” of fraudulent double-votes claimed by President Trump. To do this, he used massive datasets from that election and found approximately 800,000 instances of voter records with the same first name, last name, and date of birth. However, after correcting for several known and well-documented phenomena, Prof. Goel showed how those 800,000 potential double-votes can be almost fully accounted for and legitimate, which means the likely number of fraudulent double votes in fact approaches zero.
Learn more about the work of Prof. Goel’s Stanford Computational Policy Lab.
Talk video coming soon!