While wrapping up work on his B.S. in Mathematics in 1984, Nick found a text on Operations Research in a bookstore, and was immediately fascinated by the use of mathematics to make difficult real-world decisions. Shortly thereafter, he began taking related courses at the University of Utah, and then at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he completed his M.S. in Operations Research & Statistics in 1986.
After graduation, Nick began work as a management science consultant at General Foods USA, performing product formulation optimization and agricultural forecasting. By this time, IBM PCs (and early clones from Compaq and others) were finding their way onto many desks in large corporate environments like GF. Nick saw that performing analyses exclusively on mainframe computers—especially when many of these analyses were linear programming problems involving just a few dozen decision variables and a handful of constraints—was not making the best possible use of the available resources, and started to push for including development of PC-based decision support tools in the mission of the Management Science department. Nick went on to apply this approach to the development of custom software for forecasting, production simulation and scheduling, and—in one of the first expert systems deployed in General Foods—diagnosing quality problems in food products sold to wholesale customer.
For the next several years, Nick's focus shifted more to information services and software development in support of traditional and redesigned business processes—but always with a solid analytical foundation. For example, his background in statistics and time series analysis informed his development of systems for management-by-exception of industrial processes, for clients in Mexico. During this time, his decision science background was most evident in his work in the service of education & training—e.g. advising high school students in the development of discrete-event and compartment models for simulation of service processes and epidemics, and developing browser-based discrete-event and systems dynamics models to illustrate the effects of random variation on processing duration and throughput for a client developing and selling IT provisioning services.
Most recently, Nick explored the use of biologically-inspired metaheuristics—such as ant colony optimization (ACO)—for resource and event scheduling, while in the role as CTO of Friday Networking Lunch and Occulant.