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14 Jul 2020

A “genetic” algorithm won in the online logistic hackathon at GSOM SPbU and SIBUR

The Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg State University (GSOM SPbU), together with SIBUR, conducted the first inter-university online hackathon. During the week, students from six Russian universities in multidisciplinary teams developed logistics solutions for business. The best students participating in the hackathon will receive an invitation for an online internship at SIBUR. 


The hackathon participants were faced with the task of developing a route plan and a digital technical solution for organizing the transportation of more than 4,500 employees of a petrochemical plant. According to the conditions of the task, it was necessary to take into account changes in tariffs, mobility requirements, as well as to minimize the costs of the company.


The winning team “Programmers-Linalniki” presented a solution based on a genetic algorithm — a way to solve problems by randomly selecting, combining and varying the desired parameters using mechanisms similar to selection in nature. The team selected the most effective and economical option, requiring minimal investment to solve the task. The proposed solution calculates as accurately as possible the time spent on boarding and moving passengers, thanks to the use of the special satellite tools API application programming interface ). The team also developed a telegram bot where company employees can record changes in time and point of departure. It allows the system to redistribute passenger flows to save resources. 


“For me, it is really a new way of finding solutions to problems: we are used to meetings, brainstorming and finding answers to questions within the company. We did not usually use external expertise to solve problems. The hackathon showed that innovative student decisions can organically complement and improve solutions already in use at SIBUR. During preparation, we went through various stages from the skepticism of the faculty to the possibility of solving problems of great complexity, reflected in the delight of the jury in summing up the results. It is a really smart result, and it has been a great pleasure to work productively with student teams,” said Yevgeny Yamshchikov, Director of Economics and Performance Management SIBUR-Kstovo and SIBUR-Neftekhim.


In total, 35 students from the universities of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Saratov have registered for participation in the hackathon — St. Petersburg State University, MSTU, Higher School of Economics, ITMO, St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, and SSTU. The teams included students studying in the areas of management, applied mathematics and computer science, international relations, logistics, corporate finance, rocket science and marketing. 


The hackathon consisted of two parts. During the first — 12 teams developed their solution of the case set by the company. During the week of the second stage, six selected teams finalized their response to the level of MVP — the minimum viable product. Each team had the opportunity to receive comments, discuss intermediate results and ask questions of SIBUR experts. In the hackathon final, six teams presented their refined logistics solutions to the Heads and Specialists of the SIBUR Transport Department, who were the jury.


“In this new reality, we are forced to adapt traditional events online. The transformation of the hackathon into a remote format allowed us to unite students from three cities and six universities, as well as to create cross-functional teams for a more comprehensive approach to solving the problem. We believe that the effectiveness of solutions increases when students with different competencies work together. This is not the first case of such cooperation in a business school. The success of this approach is also confirmed by the project <5G_DREAM_LAB>. The Hackathon is a great way to allow companies to use the creative thinking of students offering both traditional and non-trivial solutions for certain tasks,” said Elizaveta Troyanova, Director of GSOM Career Center.