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International student gains experience


The recent emphasis at the University of West Florida on shared research by students and faculty members resulted in quite an adventure for Master of Business Administration candidate Milana Romanenko, an international student from Russia.

She presented an article at the Decision Sciences Institute 42nd annual meeting in Boston, Nov. 19-22.

The institute is a multi-disciplinary, international association dedicated to “advancing knowledge and improving instruction in business and all related fields,” according to its website.

Romanenko worked as a graduate assistant under Esmail Mohebbi, professor of management, on his project involving the application of what he called “discrete event simulation modeling techniques” to analyze and improve business processes, health care, commercial banking and other service operations.

Her work was built on the process mapping and data collection done by Margaret Fontaine, an undergraduate business student and a co-author of the paper, Mohebbi said. Using simulation software, she transformed Fontaine’s work into a computer model.

Romanenko described that process as involving a lot of trial and error. “It seems easy to incorporate data into simulation,” she said, “but it turned out not to be so easy.

“You want to make a model as realistic as possible and add a lot of features, but if you don’t have a lot of data on certain things you can’t actually include it into your model. Also, I had problems with how to write some program codes. I’m not a programmer.

“When you’re not a programmer, you write something that to you looks perfectly nice, but it doesn’t go anywhere.

“The model looks to be really straightforward, but by the end of my first term I thought that I was wasting my time,” she said. “I couldn’t get any results,  it just wasn’t working.”

But eventually it did work, Romanenko said, and the simulation data was then gathered up into a paper by Mohebbi, and sent to the Decision Sciences Institute to be approved for presentation.

Romanenko was the only one of the three researchers involved in the project able to attend the Nov. 19-22 conference, so it was her duty to present the group’s research to a small audience over the three-day period.

“It wasn’t like there was a single place where everybody was presenting—people can go wherever they had interest,” she said. “Most of the presenters were doctoral students. I hadn’t met any other master’s students.

“I was definitely nervous. Also, because English is not my first language, there was a moment where I was starting to forget English,” she said, laughing. “But I think I did well because I replied to all questions. The paper was really well-fitted for presenting as a particular part of decision science.”

The conference served as a great place to collaborate, Romanenko said. “It’s a place where you can exchange your ideas, develop your ideas, and grow your ideas. It was all very exciting and useful.”

About her future, Romanenko said she hopes to continue working with finance and production management. She said she believes this experience really helped her by expanding her resume to include her work on the project and presentation at the conference.

“Every international student after graduating has an opportunity to work for one year in the United States,” she said.  “I think it’s a great opportunity, because America is famous as one of the most industrious nations with very efficient people. I think it’s great getting experience on how to work with very efficient people, which is very different from the culture of my country.”

 Hayley Benton
Staff Writer 

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