Kenneth R. Chelst

Kenneth R. Chelst

Past Awards

INFORMS President's Award: Awardee(s)
INFORMS President Rina Schneur presenting the INFORMS President's Award to Kenneth R. Chelst

The 2011 INFORMS PRESIDENT’S AWARD is awarded to Kenneth R. Chelst for his pioneering work in developing a unique educational curriculum that introduces young Americans to operations research and for his essential public safety policy and operational analysis, which has guided city leaders and police, firefighter, and emergency service executives through difficult challenges they face in towns and cities across the United States.

Professor Kenneth Chelst of Wayne State University was one of a handful of operations researchers who early realized that the study of applied mathematics should not be confined to the academy but should be made widely accessible, even playful for high school students interested in exploring less theoretical and more accessible aspects of math that apply to our everyday lives. Over the course of more than 15 years he collaborated with colleagues in writing individual lesson plans and entire courses for high school teachers that fascinated teacher and student alike with mathematical methods unique to operations research. These allow math students with just a basic background in high school algebra to imagine themselves using mathematics to make decisions the way business executives and city officials would, as well as provide them with analytic skills to plan the operation of their workplace, handle their finances, choose a college, and make better decisions in every aspect of their lives. His work, together with that of educators in North Carolina and Michigan, convinced the National Science Foundation to underwrite Project Mindset, a program for introducing applied math and operations research to high school mathematics departments around the country.

At these most pressing times as communities face unprecedented budgetary crises, everyone who lives in a village, town, city, or county is concerned about the funding and maintenance of public safety services that are essential to the quality of life. Over more than 35 years, Professor Chelst has used operations research to analyze the way that governments can better and more cost effectively handle emergencies. By examining ways to shorten response times, deploy forces, sharpen budgets, and combine services, Professor Chelst has taught government officials how to do more with less even under the combined strains of life-and-death crises and financial cutbacks to essential services.

The INFORMS President's Award is made for contributions to the welfare of society. Kenneth Chelst’s work on the local and national level on behalf of teenagers developing a love of applied mathematics and those who work tirelessly to provide police, fire, and emergency services has improved lives across the country. I am therefore pleased to present the 2011 INFORMS President's Award to Kenneth R. Chelst, a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Wayne State University.