Meet Jim Anderson

When told that something could not be done, James "Jim" A. Anderson looked upon this statement not as an ending point but as an opportunity.   

Ever since Anderson began his career at Wayne State University in the engineering department, he never took “it can’t be done” for an answer.  By applying his entrepreneurial spirit and analytical mindset to every obstacle put in front of him, Anderson has made a career out of solving the seemingly unsolvable. Moreover, he actually seeks out these challenges.

Anderson received his bachelor's degree in engineering in 1966 and his master's degree in engineering with a minor in operations research in 1970, both from Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich. In 1967, Anderson joined the engineering faculty at Wayne State University where he developed environmental models and computer mapping techniques to display the data created by the models.  In 1972, he began working with the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University to expand his computer mapping capabilities to include census data, employment data and other forms of demographic information.  In addition, he developed statistical and mathematical models for the location analysis of demographic data.

In 1977, when Cadillac Motor Car was told that a particular marketing problem “couldn’t be done” with current technology, Anderson invented a way to solve the problem and founded Urban Science to deliver the solution.  By 2014, the firm had grown to approximately 820 employees with 18 offices, servicing clients in more than 40 countries around the globe.  Urban Science takes a scientific approach to help companies identify where they should allocate resources in order to increase their market share, profitability and customer loyalty in the most effective and efficient manner.

Initially, Anderson conceived and developed the analytical and computer graphics tools in the Urban Science systems.  Anderson has also testified as an expert witness in over 200 cases involving disputes between automobile dealers and manufacturers. Currently, he serves as president and CEO of Urban Science and remains actively involved in all aspects of the business without showing any signs of slowing down.

Anderson created a vision for Urban Science, a world where science and technology combine with entrepreneurial spirit to create opportunity for innovators while making the world a better place. This vision goes far beyond Urban Science and really drives Anderson personally in all he sets out to achieve in life.   And when looking for ways to give back, he seeks out opportunities where a direct impact can be made to help others that share his can-do attitude. 

In an effort to help individuals overcome life’s tragedies, Anderson funded the degrees of students affected by 9/11, set up college funds for wounded soldiers or their families and helps support other similarly inclined organizations. A teacher at heart, Anderson is actively involved in donating his time, energy and money to education. In Detroit, he supports Teach for America, Junior Achievement in Detroit high schools and Blessing in a Backpack in Detroit elementary schools. In 2003, he developed the Engineering Ventures Program at Wayne State University in the form of an endowed chair in the College of Engineering, engineering student scholarships, and offices for the program in the then new engineering building. Today, he chairs the College of Engineering Board of Visitors, serves on the Board of the Wayne Foundation and leads the engineering alumni effort to support the College.

Anderson is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Marketing Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Statistical Association, American Association for Artificial Intelligence, Association for Computing Machinery, The Economic Club of Detroit, Engineering Society of Detroit, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, National Society of Professional Engineers, and Sigma Xi National Research Society.

Anderson has won numerous awards including the ASTM Outstanding Undergraduate Engineering Student in 1966, National Science Foundation Graduate Trainee in 1967, Arthur W. Carr “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” in 1972, the Wayne State University “Distinguished Engineering Alumni Achievement Award” in 1995, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002 and the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan’s Humanitarian Award in 2008.