A new type of ORSSA event – a meet-up - was launched mid-2014. Meet-ups bring people together to learn something, do something and share something. These meetings are arranged through a site called Meetup (www.meetup.com), and follow an agenda-less format developed in Seattle called Lean Coffee. The core idea is to be able to host peer discussions of between 5-10 people without necessarily requiring anyone to prepare or be in charge of the meeting itself. At the start, attendees submit topics they would like to discuss with the group. Each person then provides a short introduction to their topics, and then everyone votes on them in order to prioritise the order in which they will be discussed. The discussion then focusses on each topic in turn and runs for about 5 minutes, after which a quick visual poll is conducted to establish if the group should continue the discussion or move to the next one. This allows time to be spent on topics that people are finding the most interesting during the course of the 1.5-2 hour long meeting. This simple lightweight format provides a forum for people involved in Operations Research and Data Analytics to make contact with people who share a common curiosity and passion for the fields in which they work. Given the current hype around big data and the increasing sophistication of tools available, ORSSA decided to take advantage of the current interest in these fields by hosting and facilitating a series of meet-ups around the country. This enables people to find out about the role ORSSA plays in both academia and industry, and for ORSSA to understand and receive feedback on the issues faced by people engaged in problems which fall under its scope.
ORRSA has so far registered and launched 2 such meet-ups; in Rosebank (Jhb) and in Cape Town. They have been very well received and the networking and mentoring opportunities amongst attendees of different ages and both backgrounds are endless. The topics discussed so far have been quite varied and have included the use (or lack thereof) of different tools and technologies, issues related to client management in projects and even book recommendations. The meetings are really very cost effective since there is no venue fee and the attendees buy their own drinks and food.
We would like to invite SAIIE members to join us at these events so that many more contacts will be established in future between people who share a passion and curiosity for this field of science. So far, coffee and ideas have come together quite well! Check out http://www.meetup.com/Lean-Analytics-ORSSA-JHB/ for more info or contact David Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Angela Rademeyer (email@example.com).