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Graduate Student Profile
Sarah Nurre
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Sarah Nurre

Hometown: Seven Hills, OH
Degree Sought: Ph.D.
Department: Industrial and Systems Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Thomas C. Sharkey
Year of graduation: 2013

Background and Accomplishments:
I first attended RPI from 2003-2007.  I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Mathematics.  I was active as an undergraduate by being an RA and RD for Residence Life, President of the Dance Club, and involved in other clubs and organizations on campus.

During my senior year I debating going to graduate school or working in industry.  I decided to take a job at Progressive Insurance.  I worked at Progressive for 2 years in an Analyst Development Rotational Program, seeing 4 different areas of the business.  I enjoyed my time at Progressive, learned a lot, but was rejuvenated to go back to school. 

Awards/Fellowships:
Chuancey and Doris Starr Fellowship
Sandia Natiional Laboratory and RPI Excellence in Engineering Fellowship
RPI Founder’s Award

Why did you choose to enroll at Rensselaer?
I ultimately chose Rensselaer because of 4 main factors: (i) reputation/ranking (ii) research projects (iii) program duration and (iv) program requirements.  Elaborating more on the program requirements I liked how the students could focus on a specific area early on and were not required to take a broad range of classes if you had already figured that out your interests.  We can take classes from many different departments that support our research interests.  This is also reflected in the qualifying examinations which focus on research instead of competency in a wide range of unrelated topics. 

What are some benefits of being part of the Graduate Community at Rensselaer?
One benefit of the graduate community at Rensselaer is being in a supportive environment surrounded by intellectually curious people from many departments.  I think it is an environment that challenges you but is small enough that hard workers have an opportunity to shine and flourish. 

Another benefit is going to conferences, which is not only supported but also encouraged.  Going to conferences enables you to think about how to effectively communicate your work, network with your peers, and visit cool places. 

What would you tell a prospective student about choosing Rensselaer?
The advice I would give a prospective student is really research faculty within the department and school.  Some faculty member will eventually be your academic advisor who you will work with very closely.  I didn’t realize the magnitude of this decision when I was applying to graduate schools.  You should pick a school and ultimately an advisor that compliments your working style and not just because he or she is the top person in your field.

Also look at which faculty and students are actively involved with conferences and professional societies.  Connectedness of faculty and a school enables you to work on projects with people from different universities or government labs. 

Get excited and learn about your field.  You can do simple things such as `liking’ a professional society on facebook.  INFORMS (one of my professional societies) posts links to blogs and podcasts via their facebook page, which I read and listen to.  Being informed helps you see where your interests lie and if Rensselaer compliments those interests. 

Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications?
The main application of my graduate research is infrastructure restoration after an extreme event.  One example could be that a hurricane damages a large portion of a power network.  We create restoration plans that can restore the network in an optimal manner, for example get power back to everyone as quickly as possible. 

To do this we look at the new class of integrated network design and scheduling problems.  With these problems we decide (i) which components of the network to repair, (ii) who should repair them, and (iii) when the repair should occur.  We develop algorithms to solve the problems and perform theoretical analysis on the problems and solutions. 

What are your plans following graduation?
I hope to find a tenure track faculty position at a University.

Professional affiliations: INFORMS, IIE, SIAM

What are your hobbies/interests/special talents?
I enjoy tap dancing, being crafty, wine tasting, country music, and outdoor activities such as white water rafting. 

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