J. Eric Bickel, Ph.D.

Welcome

I am an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin (CV), where I direct the Operations Research and Industrial Engineering (ORIE) and Engineering Management (ENM) programs.  I also hold a courtesy appointment in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering (PGE) and direct ORIE’s Center for Engineering & Data Analytics (CEDA). I hold MS and PhD degrees in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University. Before returning to academia, I was a senior engagement manager and co-director of client education for Strategic Decisions Group, where I remain on the Board of Directors.

I am also active in executive education. I am the Academic Director of the Strategic Decision and Risk Management (SDRM) certificate program offered through Texas Executive Education and UT’s McCombs School of Business.

My research and teaching interests are broadly focused in the area of decision making under uncertainty, known as decision analysis. My work has been featured in the New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, the Financial TimesBloombergNational Public Radio, and in dozens of local and regional media sources. In addition, this work is featured in the documentary Cool It. This work was part of the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate Project and was selected by a panel of economists, including four Nobel Laureates, as the best response to climate change. You can learn more here. Here is my Internet Movie Database page.

What is Decision Analysis?

Decision analysis (DA) is a theory and set of methodologies to help individuals and organizations make high-quality decisions in complex and uncertain environments. DA was developed in mid-1960s by a collection of researchers and practitioners broadly associated with Stanford University, Harvard University and, to some extent, MIT. Decision analysts work in variety of industries but tend to specialize in large one-of-a-kind decisions involving significant capital (i.e., investments exceeding US$1 billion) and significant uncertainty and risk.

If you want to learn more, watch this short video by the Executive Vice-Chairman of Chevron regarding their use of decision analysis. You might also be interested in this Stanford/University of Texas webinar featuring my presentation on Decision Quality.

How Can I Obtain a Degree in Decision Analysis?

Within the ORIE program we offer both MS and PhD Concentrations in Decision Analysis. Please see these links for information regarding the MS and PhD programs. Both programs include the ability to take several electives, which are listed here. If you are not an ORIE student, you may obtain a Certificate in Decision Analysis by following the program detailed here. If you are a working professional, you can obtain a certificate in Strategic Decision and Risk Management through the McCombs School of Business.

Webinars

If you are interested in learning more about decision analysis, please watch the following webinars that I have delivered:

  • How Accurate of Weather Forecasts Anyway? In this video, I explain the concept of calibration and summarize my study of 13 million probability of precipitation forecasts provided by The Weather Channel. This work was featured by Nate Silver in his book The Signal and the Noise.
  • The Pitfalls of Heat Maps. In this video, I demonstrate that heat maps, a popular risk management tool, produce arbitrary risk management recommendations.
  • The Great American Pastime: What Baseball Can Teach Us About Decision Making. In this video, I analyze a single half-inning of a professional baseball game and demonstrates how the concepts of decision analysis and decision quality can help us make the right choice every time.
  • Climate Change: A Decision Quality Approach. In this video, I illustrate how decision analysis can help bring clarity to one of the most difficult decisions facing us at the present time.