Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
“Professor Moseley is an awesome professor who is truly passionate about what he teaches. He really cares about his students. He works really hard to get his point across to students and retries explaining to make sure all students understand. He is nice, entertaining, hard working. A great professor and genuine person.” – Rahul Ahuja, student
Ben Moseley, 36, is the Carnegie Bosch Associate Professor of Operations Research at CMU’s Tepper School of Business, where he’s taught since 2018. He currently teaches Optimization for Business, Machine Learning for Business, Probability and Statistics.
Moseley earned a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Illinois in 2012 and a Master of Science in Computer Science from UI in 2008.
In his nominations, students say he excels at explaining complex concepts and always listens to student feedback.
Burton Hollifield, associate dean for undergraduates at Tepper, says Moseley is part of a team developing a new business analytics minor at Tepper. “He is a high-profile researcher working on problems in the algorithmic foundations of machine learning and big data analysis. He has won several best paper prizes, several research grants, and a NSF career award.”
LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … The first time I took a course on optimization. I became enthralled with the idea of using applied math to model real world challenges and assist in decision making. My first class in optimization made me want to pursue a Ph.D. and ultimately become a faculty member. Just half way through the semester I knew I wanted to conduct research on developing the state-of-the-art methods for leveraging mathematics and data analytics to solve challenges faced throughput business and society.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I work on incorporating machine learning into decision making processes. Decision making often needs to be performed under uncertainty. For example, addressing supply-chain challenges under uncertainty of future demand for products. My work focuses on using machine learned predictions to better cope with uncertainty. That is, while the future may be uncertain, often there is past data that can be used to make predictions of the future. I work on incorporating machine learned predictions into decision making algorithms. The goal is to take advantage of good predictions to improve decision processes, while being robust to the fact that machine learning is often imperfect and error prone.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be … I’d be a researcher in industry. I’d find it very exciting to run a research group at a leading technology company and get to work on the current challenges faced in operations research and machine learning. So much so, I have often taken short leaves from academia to work in industry.
It would be too hard to leave students behind though!
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? As an undergraduate, I struggled sometimes. I remember what it was like to be taught complicated material and be lost. I use this experience to find the best way to break down complicated concepts into simple pieces that I hope are understandable.
I believe we all learn differently and using different strategies can help me reach students of a variety of backgrounds.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Nervous!
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I wish I knew more about being a business faculty member earlier in my career! This is an amazing job, but it falls out of the typical career paths for people in STEM fields. This is even though many faculty in operations research, decision sciences, operations management, information technologies, etc. have undergraduates or advanced degrees in mathematics, computer science, or related fields.
Professor I most admire and why: Egon Balas. Egon was a professor of Operations Research at the Tepper School of Business for over 50 years. In that time, he revolutionized the field of operations research, shaped the Tepper School, and influenced business schools and engineering departments world-wide. His work is the foundation of my field.
I can only hope to have a fraction of his influence. I strive to have his spirit and enthusiasm for education and research.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I particularly love the students at Carnegie Mellon University. They are extraordinarily bright and constantly challenge me. It is quite rewarding to teach a group of students that are eager to learn.
What is most challenging? Smart and eager students can be demanding! I work hard to keep my students challenged and attempt to exceed their expectations.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Uninterested.
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as … Fair, but firm.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? I am a big fan of outdoor activities. I run every day (even in the snow!) During the winter I enjoy skiing. In the summers, I go hiking and recently I have been doing a lot of white-water rafting.
How will you spend your summer? This summer I hope to travel to work with researchers around the world. I typically use the time I am not teaching to do research with people in industry and academia.
For fun, I hope to spend some time traveling in Europe. It would be nice to leave the country after such a long time cooped up during COVID.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: During the winter, I love to ski in Salt Lake City. Plus, the bonus of exploring the city.
Favorite book(s): “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Breakfast of Champions,” “Ham on Rye,” “a Walk In the Woods,” “Catcher in the Rye”
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Fargo, the TV series. The show is cinematic, deeply develops its characters, and has sophisticated story arcs. Particularly, I enjoy the dark comedy mixed with offbeat crime.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I am a classic rock ‘n’ roll and glam person. Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Pixies, David Bowie, Marc Bolan and T. Rex, Velvet Underground, the Beatles, etc.
I’ve identified with rock from a young age. I feel emotionally connected to the music and it inspires me.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this … I view the future of business as getting better at managing and learning from data. The future of business lies in better data-driven decision making.
The business school of the future will have data-driven decision making integrated at every part of the educational curriculum and research.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … Effectively setting proper incentive systems. People respond to incentives and appreciate when making the right decision is valued.
I’m grateful for … Having the privilege of having this job. I am lucky to have such bright students and be given the trust to lead them in their education.