Dr. David G. Ullman, Ph.D.

Dr. David G. Ullman the father of the Robust Decision-Making methodology. This process helps organizations make decisions when information is uncertain, incomplete, conflicting and evolving. It supports teams as each member works to support what she thinks is important while reaching a solution acceptable by all. The methods have been applied in areas ranging from national security to job searching/

He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University, and was Professor of Mechanical Design at Oregon State University for 20 years. His text, The Mechanical Design Process is a compendium of best practices that treats the product development process as a series of difficult decisions. The 5th edition (McGraw Hill) will be published in 2015. His book, Making Robust Decisions develops the methodology and was published in 2006. He is a Life Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and founder of its Design Theory and Methodology committee.

He holds five patents for both hardware and decision support algorithms and has applied for six others. Besides being an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design from Oregon State University, he has been a visiting Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Twente University (Netherlands), NTH (Norway) and Cambridge University (UK).

Dr. Ullman has founded two corporations to commercialize his ideas. The first company manufactured personal transportation products, grew to seven digit annual sales, and became the largest manufacturer in its field. David served as CEO over the first years of the corporation and as chairman of the board for life of the organization. The products David designed for this company won national awards.

The second corporation Ullman founded developed software, training and facilitation material around his Robust Decisions concept. Robust Decision methods have been taught and facilitated in major Fortune 500 Corporations and have led to improved decision making across many domains.

Dr. Ullman is an entertaining speaker, an experienced facilitator and a seasoned educator. His unique history of professional practice, teaching, facilitation and research enables him to balance practical experience with theory, much of it developed by him. The breath and depth of David’s real-world experience and education makes it possible for him to unstick complex situations, facilitate resolution, and help cross-organizational teams reach decisions and move to action.

Dr. Ullman has been consulting for over twenty five years. Experiences include:

  • Facilitated a hands-on problem-solving workshop at a Fortune 100 company. A human resources problem had gone unresolved for three years. During the sessions the problem was reformulated, evaluated and a course of action rapidly chosen that had buy-in from the entire team. This series of sessions not only helped the organization resolve a stuck issue, it trained the participants to utilize effective methods in future problems.
  • Facilitated a government team of experts choosing the best proposal for eight digit funding. Typically, when choosing a new technology to fund, the organization mobilizes a distributed team of domain experts. David showed them how to cut significant cost and time from this decision-making process.
  • Developed a decision support methodology for processing national intelligence information. Funded internally by a major military/security supplier, this extension of Robust Decision methods offered them the first system that supports intelligence agents reaching critical decisions about national security issues while taking into account the uncertainty that clouds all intelligence work.
  • Assisted a government research laboratory in understanding why their project planning estimates were so inaccurate and suggesting methods to improve them. This lab develops multi-million dollar satellites pushing the edges of technology. Some of these projects come in over three times the initial budget estimates. An effort to understand the causes and remedies of this resulted in suggestions that required fundamental system changes.
  • Supplied software to a rocket engine manufacturer to assist them in choosing the best possible rocket engine to propose for funding. Their proposal was successful and they won the support.
  • Facilitated a team of senior managers choosing new product development directions. From the portfolio of ideas that had been discussed, aided them in choosing which to develop with buy-in and risk awareness.

Dr. Ullman has taught hundreds of courses in his career, both in industry and academia:

  • Robust Decision courses presented at: Hewlett Packard, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, IBM, and Harley Davidson.
  • Product design processes taught to over 1000 university students and hundreds of industry professionals at Lucent, Cummins, Sequent, Comfortex, Schlumberger, Metronic, Tektronix, Mentor Graphics, Novellus, and Freightliner.

Recent white papers include:


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