Thomas Vossen is from the Netherlands and has an extensive background in computer science and business. Before joining the Leeds School of Business, he served in the Royal Dutch Navy as a Systems Analyst for the Naval Intelligence Department.
Vossen uses computer simulation and optimization models to figure out practical solutions to everyday business problems like air traffic delays. “It is fun to really figure something out, to understand connections and how they impact each other. There is a puzzle factor to it that makes it interesting,” he says.
His 2006 paper, “Slot Trading Opportunities in Collaborative Ground Delay Programs”, examined the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airlines system for dealing with delayed flights. Airlines are often aware of flight delays hours in advance, so they ground flights rather than circling a congested airport because it is cheaper and safer. Through the FAA these grounded flights may switch arrival time slots. Building off of this idea, Vossen developed a computer optimization model to maximize on-time performance of flights and minimize passenger delays in as fair and equitable way as possible.
Currently, Vossen is developing an optimization model for the operation of a mine. Mines have very complex production scheduling problems and managers must decide when and where to dig. “With these large scale models the key is finding a smart way to approximate decisions today that will impact cost in the future,” he says.
Vossen’s work has everyday applications. In class students use a Global Supply Chain Management Simulation to oversee virtual supply chains of real companies such as MillerCoors or Crocs. Students learn quickly how seemingly small changes can translate into monetary savings. Vossen is the recipient of the MBA Educator of Distinction Award, the MBA Teaching Excellence Award and the Kolb Teaching Award.