Alli VanderStoep, Industrial & Operations Engineering Master’s Student

Alli VanderStoep

Hello! My name is Alli VanderStoep and I am a second-year master’s student in the Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE) program. Although I am one of the older students, I am new to the CHEPS family. I began working at CHEPS at the beginning of May, so I have spent about two and a half months here and have enjoyed every minute of it!

One of the projects I am working on is the Outpatient Surgery (OPS) Revamp. The OPS Revamp team is quite large, with 10 students working with Amy who is spearheading the project. We are responsible for creating a tool to assist the University Hospital in scheduling the backlogged elective patient surgeries (due to COVID-19) and keeping track of their resource utilization. It is incredibly rewarding to contribute to this team effort and to receive positive feedback from the hospital surgeons that our tools are helping!

Another project I am working on is the Family Medicine (FM) Clinic project, which is brand new, like the OPS Revamp project. We are partnered with a CHEPS alumnus, a graduated medical student now in residency at a university in Lebanon. Our team is responsible for creating a tool to improve the scheduling process of the FM residents at the university. It has been a valuable experience to see the project unfold from the beginning. We started the process by talking to the collaborator and have since begun to create the mathematical formulation and the scheduling tool. I’m excited to see this project continue developing!

I will admit that working virtually has been a little weird. My first week was entirely dedicated to installing the secure connection software, accessing the server, and mapping to the project folders. Email, Zoom, and Slack have replaced in-person interactions. I learned more about Zoom than I ever could have ever imagined. Here is a running short list of Zoom tips and etiquette rules I’ve picked up:

  1. Keep yourself on mute in a large group…please
  2. End every call by waving goodbye
  3. Thumbs up and thumbs down are effective methods of communication
  4. There is a 50% success rate in screen sharing. If the shared screen freezes or displays a black screen, leave the meeting and come back

A drawback of remote work is the lessened social atmosphere. It is a bummer I am unable to spend time in person with the smart and passionate researchers, working at the SI building, eating burgers at Frita Batidos, or tubing down the Argo Cascades. I also hear that CHEPSters don’t mess around in pick up volleyball! But, instead of in-person activities, CHEPS has interwoven virtual social activities to make the summer as enjoyable as possible. I participated in the socially distanced 5k run last month, which was a hoot and a half! It was great to see a handful of my workmates in person and enjoy post-run brownies baked by Amy’s son Peter.

CHEPSters after running the socially distanced 5k to support COVID-19 work at Michigan Medicine

Additionally, every Monday during lunch, there is a Zoom social event. It rotates between a workout and a game. The first workout in which I participated was yoga… it might have been my last. Other students were smart in turning off their video cameras. I left mine on and almost tipped over in Warrior 3 pose. The game Covidopoly was a hit! It’s similar to Monopoly but with cards and an appropriate COVID theme. Mask cards are invaluable and collecting properties such as Cuomo Circle and New York Hospital will help you win the game.

Amidst all the craziness, the established CHEPSters made sure I felt warmly welcomed. I was also assigned a mentor who helped me to get onboarded. Throughout my time here, I have seen that CHEPS not only greatly cares about the work, but also the people! I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer when I can meet more CHEPSters and continue to apply my IOE knowledge to healthcare!