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Human Factors Conference Returns To CSULB March 2

Published: March 1, 2013

The 8th Annual Regional Human Factors Conference returns to CSULB on Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in University Student Union room 205. Admission is free.

This conference is organized by the CSULB Student Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (CSULB-HFES), and sponsored by CSULB-HFES, the Center for Human Factors in Advanced Aeronautics Technologies (CHAAT), the Associated Students Inc., CSULB and the College of Liberal Arts Student Council. It is a forum for the exchange of ideas in all areas of human factors as well as a chance for students to meet professionals in the field of human factors. Each year, three keynote speakers are invited to present on their work.

This year’s speakers include:

• Frank Lacson, human factors engineer, Pacific Science and Engineering Group, who will speak on “From Engineering Psychology to Human Systems Integration: Lessons Learned from Research and Practice.” He will address his perspectives from a career that has transitioned from human factors in academia to human systems integration in industry. Lacson will walk through various laboratory projects, technologies, and system development efforts and reveal lessons learned, common processes, and joyful opportunities discovered in research and practice. This presentation will conclude with a framework of how Human Factors practitioners can continue to apply the core academic principles of teaching, research and service.

• Linh Pham, lead interaction designer, LivingSocial, who will speak on “What It’s Like to be a UX Designer?” Pham, a CSULB graduate, will share her journey as a UX designer that will include projects she has worked on, the challenges faced and what she has learned along the way. She also will discuss her experience with working at both an ad agency and startup environments and the differences between both.

• Patricia Cowings and William Toscano, research psychologists, NASA Ames Research Center, who will speak on “The Psychophysiology of Space Flight: The Star Trek Connection.” This talk will highlight insights related to research investigating how humans adapt to spaceflight and how to help them adapt to physiological changes using non-medical methods. Cowings is the principal investigator of the Psychophysiological Research Laboratory at Ames. She was the first African-American female scientist to be trained as an astronaut payload specialist and was inducted into the Women In Technology International Hall of Fame in 2009.

“It will be a very diverse set of speakers,” said CSULB-HFES student chapter advisor Tom Strybel, a member of the Psychology Department since 1986. “Audiences will get a broad overview of what human factors professionals do.”

The conference also will host poster and breakout sessions. In the poster session, students and professionals present their research and human factors projects. “Participants also have the chance to see student work at the noon poster session where the students will be present to answer questions,” he explained. “That’s really great for the students. It’s good not only for the students to meet the professionals but also for the professionals to see what our students can do.”

The speaker breakout session is an opportunity for students and professionals to meet one-on-one with keynote speakers. Students are especially interested in these sessions because they can ask questions about their jobs and challenges of working in the field of human factors.

Human Factors Logo

Human factors, also known as ergonomics or human engineering, is a scientific discipline which examines human behavior and capabilities in order to design products, equipment and systems for safe, effective human use. CSULB’s human factors faculty members are at work on such topics as basic human performance, human-computer interaction, aviation psychology, workload, situation awareness and interface design for air traffic controllers and pilots. The Human Factors program features such labs as the Center for Human Factors in Advanced Aeronautics Technologies (CHAAT), one of 13 NASA University Research Centers across the United States) which measures human performance in such complex systems as the Next Generation Airspace Transportation System (NextGen); and the Center for Usability in Design and Assessment (CUDA) which evaluates software and web interfaces for ease of use, effectiveness and satisfaction to users.

Strybel hopes the conference will offer both current and prospective human factors students the chance to learn about career opportunities. “They get to see what they can do with a degree,” he explained. “Many students are unaware of field of human factors. This conference offers students a good chance to see some of the professional areas available to human factors.”

Strybel, is proud of the strength of the campus’ student chapter.

“CSULB’s Student HFES Chapter is the prime organizer of the annual event,” he said. “This organization is extremely active; it has been awarded the Outstanding Student Chapter Gold Award by the national HFES for the past seven years,” he said. “The conference has been a very successful event for us as more and more groups and individuals participate.” The student chapter has been asked to host the International Human Factors Society Conference this fall.

Strybel believes the continued success of the conference reflects the growth of human factors at CSULB. “When our master’s program in human factors was established in 2005, it was a small program,” he said. “It has grown tremendously, thanks to the support of CSULB, NASA and aerospace firms such as the Boeing Co.”

He encourages the campus community to participate in this year’s conference. “Audiences will hear some very interesting speakers,” he said. “Anyone with an interest in space or human factors will find a lot to like in this conference.”

–Richard Manly