Author Archives: Eric

Successfully Passed Proposal Defense

A week ago, I passed my dissertation proposal defense. I proposed two essays in energy operations management for my dissertation. I will have to defend the thesis writeup next spring. Thanks to my committee: Owen Wu, Gil Souza, Kyle Cattani, and Kurt Bretthauer, and to the external members of my examination committee: John Maxwell and Shibo Li.

Book Review – The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
by Agatha Christie, 1920

Christie’s first novel, this isn’t her best. The book was more rambling and hard to follow than the other two from Christie that I have read, Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None. Covers a murder of a family matriarch for her money, set in World War I.

Amazon Link: The Mysterious Affair At Styles

Finalist for POMS College of Sustainable Operations Best Student Paper

Kyle Cattani, one of my co-authors, was left off the original announcement. I have added him below.

Announcement sent out via Tim Kraft and Yannis Bellos:

On behalf of the awards committee, we are pleased to congratulate the finalist for the 2017 POMS College of Sustainable Operations Best Student Paper Competition. The finalist in alphabetical order are:

Karthik Balasubramanian (Harvard Business School)
Inventory Models for Mobile Money Agents in the Developing World
Co-author: David Drake

Eric Webb (Indiana University)
Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response
Coauthor: Owen Wu, Kyle Cattani

Can Zhang (Georgia Tech)
Truth-inducing Mechanisms for Medical Surplus Product Allocation
Coauthors: Atalay Atasu, Turgay Ayer, Beril Toktay

The winning paper will be announced during the College of Sustainable Operations business meeting on Saturday, May 6th at this year’s POMS Annual Conference in Seattle. Thank you to all those who submitted. We had a record number of entries this year with 24 submissions, all of which were of high quality.

Book Review – Micro Cogeneration

Micro Cogeneration: Towards Decentralized Energy Systems
by Martin Pehnt, Martin Cames, Corinna Fischer, Barbara Praetorius, Lambert Schneider, Katja Schumacher, and Jan-Peter Vob, 2006

This book describes efforts to improve the adoption of small-scale cogeneration, or combined heat and power plants. I wrote a bit about CHP plants here.

This book is written for the German market, but describes the situation in the US, Europe, and Japan as well.

I didn’t read the whole book, as many of the chapters were overly technical for my interest-level. I’m mostly interested in the economic situation of CHP plants. Here are the chapters I read:
2. Dynamics of Socio-Technical Change: Micro Cogeneration in Energy System Transformation Scenarios
3. The Future Heating Market and the Potential for Micro Cogeneration
4. Economics of Micro Cogeneration
9. Embedding Micro Cogeneration in the Energy Supply System
11. Micro Cogeneration in North America
15. Summary and Conclusions

I think this quote sums up the difficulty of embracing decentralized CHP well:

Micro cogeneration… faces a selection environment that is geared towards central generation and long-distance transmission of electricity combined with separate heat production. The existing “regime” of energy provision may indeed represent a fundamental barrier for the widespread application of micro cogeneration technology, because it more or less subtly works towards the preservation of the existing structure: to which vested interests, actor networks, traditions, established mind sets, sunk costs, and more are attached.

My CHP project is looking at economic situations and policy levers in which utility ownership of CHP will be more favored.

Amazon Link: Micro Cogeneration: Towards Decentralized Energy Systems

Bracket is perfect through day 1

I have two brackets, one based on my model results below (always picking team with better total coefficient) and one based on my own picks. The one based on my own picks went 16/16 yesterday.

Maria’s own picks also went 16/16, and we did not fill out our brackets together. We do have differences in choices today, so at least one of us will not be perfect come the round of 32.

Book Review – And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie, 1939

Maria and I read Murder on the Orient Express previously and liked Agatha Christie’s storytelling. This one is a bit more haunting, but still good. There are extensive back-stories of the characters at the beginning of the book. I tried to look up these back-stories online as a reminder, but accidentally saw some spoilers. I tried not to read them, but I thought that I saw who the murderer was. Despite this, the story is so deceptive that I wasn’t really sure what was happening until the last pages of the book. Recommended.

Amazon Link: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Strength of March Madness Teams

Similar to last year and the year before, I will run my NFL model over NCAA men’s basketball teams to show the strength of each team. The model predicts how many more points a team will score than the “average” team, along with how many more points they will give up on defense. The model is only based on the final scores of games during the season. Positive numbers are good for Offensive strength. Negative numbers are good for defensive strength. My model does not discount (late season runs matter no more than early season victories) and does not account for injuries.

Some things to note:
1. 8 tournament teams are worse than an NCAA Division 1 average team.
2. The top 12 teams are within 5 expected points of each other.
3. West Virginia is the 3rd best team (2nd year in a row) and got a 4 seed. Wichita State is the 11th best team and got a 10 seed.
4. The best teams not to make the tournament are Indiana (14.2 points above average, should be an 8 seed), TCU (13.5), Syracuse (13.0), and Texas Tech (12.9). Illinois State, who went 27-6, is only the 13th best team not to make the tournament (10.1).
5. Wichita State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Marquette, Wake Forest, and Kansas State all deserved seeds that were at least 3 better.
6. Maryland, Minnesota, Arizona, Dayton, and Butler all deserved seeds that were at least 3 worse.

Book Review – The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg, 2012

Good book about diagnosing and changing your bad habit and developing good habits. Most of what we do is habitual and done without thought. We get into a cycle where a cue triggers a routine in order to get some reward. If you have a list of websites you traverse whenever you start browsing the internet, you know this cycle. In order to fix bad habits or develop good habits, we need to understand the components of the cycle and learn how to be proactive in shaping them.

This book starts with personal habits and moves to organizational habits, with multiple examples from business. To get a flavor of the book, check out this appendix which walks through changing a single habit of the author: going to the cafeteria at work to get a cookie each afternoon.

Amazon Link: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business