Peter Gombos with computer screen background

The Operations Research & Industrial Engineering (ORIE) program, housed within the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been focused on the development of decision-analytic methods since its founding in 1967. Recently, this focus has been driven by a desire to better integrate data into the decision-making process.

As a field, operations research is unique in its approach to analytics. Any decision is comprised of three elements: (1) what you can do, (2) what you know or don’t know, and (3) what you want. The current buzz around analytics in programs outside of ORIE and the Cockrell school of Engineering, more broadly, such as computer science and statistics, is focused on the second element: developing algorithms to analyze data and quantify what we know. This is a necessary, but insufficient perspective. Organizations only care about analyzing data because they need to make a decision. Many companies have become disillusioned with “data analytics” and “big data,” because the tie to decision making has been unclear on non-existent.

The Center for Engineering & Decision Analytics (CEDA) aims to fill this gap. Operations research is the only field that addresses the whole problem. Namely, how to use data to make better decisions, with the hope of obtaining more of what we want (e.g., health, safety, and profit). The objective of CEDA it to research and develop advanced theories, methods, processes, and tools that support decision making in complex and uncertain environments. Particular emphasis will be placed on domains where data- and decision-science can be most impactful. This includes industries that have access to vast amounts of data and must make regular, perhaps real-time, decisions using this data, or industries that make very large capital investments and want these investment decisions to be supported by the latest developments in analytics. The research completed under this agreement will be of a basic nature and does not have a specific commercial objective. Research results will be published or broadly shared in the scientific community. 

Center Objectives

  • Train students to work on a wide-range of important and challenging decision analytics problems, relevant to industry
  • Ensure that our educational program is focused on industry needs
  • Develop a pipeline of interesting research problems, leading to external funding
  • Work collaboratively with industry to develop novel methods and solutions to important problems
  • Develop the funding base needed to support a graduate program of the highest caliber 

CEDA Membership Model

Organizations actively participate in creating the hub for analytics in Texas by providing guidance, access to data/problems, and financial support. These resources are used to improve the ORIE educational program and support graduate students through funded research projects. Organizations benefit through access to students, relevant research results, marketing of their brand on campus, training of staff, and the creation of an analytics “hot bed” in Austin.