College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

IMSE’s MacKenzie creates Hurricane Decision Simulator to assist Marines with decision making

Hurricane Simulator
The Hurricane Decision Simulator presents MFR leaders with a realistic simulation to make decisions about impending hurricanes.

The U.S. Marine Forces Reserve (MFR) is headquartered in New Orleans, LA, which is an area prone to hurricanes. During the event of a hurricane warning, the commander must make timely decisions to protect the safety of the personnel and set up alternate headquarters in order to facilitate an orderly evacuation.

Cameron MacKenzie
Assistant Professor Cameron MacKenzie

An assistant professor from Iowa State University, Cameron MacKenzie, and Eva Regnier, associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, developed a web-based simulation tool to give the commander the ability to make informed and decisive decisions. In their paper titled, The Hurricane Decision Simulator: A tool for Marine Forces in New Orleans to practice operations management in advance of a hurricane, Regnier and MacKenzie created the Hurricane Decision Simulator (HDS) to allow Marine Forces Reserve personnel to practice making decisions in the context of many realistic simulated storms and forecasts.

This gives the decision-makers a chance to better understand the decisions, the forecast products, and the relationship between the forecasted hurricanes and their decisions. When the National Hurricane Center identifies a real threat, the MFR will be better prepared, having made similar decisions based on their experience with the simulator.

Regnier and MacKenzie’s paper was a finalist for the 2017 Manufacturing & Service Operations Management Practice-Based Competition and a finalist for the 2017 Public Sector and Operations Research Paper Competition for the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.