Operations Research Practice Project

Interdisciplinary teams of students prototypically solve challenging optimization tasks from companies' planning practice. Time frame is three months, ready, set, go...

› Students get first-hand practical experience already while studying on their programs.
› Companies get a glimspe of how far science can bring them.

Theory → Practice: We wouldn't agree that all theory is gray, but the focus of the OR practice project clearly is on the practical application, to bring theory to live, to apply everything you have learned, models, algorithms, concepts.

The Practice Project

Teams composed of 5-7 students from different disciplines work on optimization tasks provided by companies. The time frame is one term, i.e., three months. In this time, students go through the entire analytics process: from the discussion of the task with the "problem owner," its formalization, obtaining and cleaning data, modeling, design and/or selection of suitable algorithms, their implementation, to the visualization and interpretation of results, and an evaluation of potentially different scenarios. When students present their results, we are interested in the business implications and the solid scientific background.

Students with an OR background learn how to come from an unstructured task to a scientifically sound and practically relevant solution, as it could be experienced in an OR department of a larger company. The OR practice project certainly entails a lot (!) of work, but besides credit points, you obtain valuable practical experience.

For Companies

Our partners donate challenging optimization tasks, as they occur in complex planning and decision situations in practice. The cases display more "dirty" constraints as their textbook companions; after all, this is a practice project, not a lab exercise. Students are provided with realistic data (NDA) and a contact person at the company, and off we go...

Companies can use this project to try out unconventional ideas, obtain some external feedback, find out about the possibilities offered by mathematical optimization, just want to catch up with scientific results, get in touch with future staff members. In case a proof-of-concept promises larger potential, there is the opportunity to move on in a Master's thesis project, or even a PhD dissertation project, together with the OR team.

For Students

Master's students enrolled in the following subjects can participate in the OR practice project:
• mathematics
• computer science
• data Science
• industrial engineering
• business and economics
• business administration

The learning format is very free style, you will love it and you will hate it. You will work in a team; the social component and the self-organization should not be underestimated.

Prerequisites: Very good knowledge in integer programming or another methodological OR area are indispensible. You should have successfully participated in OR1 and POM, and it would be nice if both were fun to you. You will code (a lot), so you are already skilled in programming. You are willing to embark on an intensive three months journey.

Contact: Marco Lübbecke


Ein Auswahl bisheriger und aktueller "Problembesitzer"


Auch Ihr Unternehmen hat eine spannende Aufgabe aus dem Bereich
Operations Research / Analytics / Optimierung? – Sprechen Sie uns an.
Kontakt aufnehmen

Check points during each term

  • Kickoff, in the first week(s) of each term
    Companies present their cases; formation of teams based on participants' preferences. The teams start right away at the kickoff.
  • Case presentation, about 2 weeks later
    Each team presents their view on the case. From an unstructured task they have obtained a formal grasp of the optimization task and the business case. A first literature scan has been performed, there are first modeling ideas and potential ways on how to algorithmically approach the problem. The team is organized (roles, communication, timing), there is a first technical setup for collaboration, potential show stoppers are identified.
  • Mid term presentation, about 6 to 8 weeks after the kickoff
    Presentation of the solution approach (models, algorithms, prototypical implementations, scenarios, data) and preliminary results, an outlook on the remaining project time, and -- if there are any -- potential hurdles. At this time, students have basically solved the problem, but may/will need more experiments, furher developments to scale their approach, more/other data, etc. Experimentation and interpretation will still take their time from this point on.
  • Final presentation, around the end of the term
    The works of each team will be presented in front of all other teams and all participating companies. Often we meet directly at some company's site.
    The final presentation is actually two: first, the practical value, the business implications are presented to the company. In a second part, the scientific background is presented to OR experts.

Dates for the current term

The list of available practice projects as well as the dates (once available) can be found on the German pages of the school of business.


Mit Methoden des OR können Unternehmen Geld sparen; denn unter Berücksichtigung sämtlicher Rahmenbedingungen kann berechnet werden, welche Vorgehensweise zu einem optimalen Ergebnis führt.

— Prof. (em.) Dr. H.-J. Zimmermann (Begründer des OR-Praktikums, bis 1999 OR-Lehrstuhlinhaber an der RWTH, Gründer der INFORM GmbH)