Embedding Human Augmentation Technologies in the Future of Emergency Response Work
MIE Department Seminar
November 9, 2021
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Online via Zoom at https://uic.zoom.us/j/89139801511?pwd=TDIyR0Jia3JnTForMEJmWXVwem5zZz09
Chicago, IL 60607
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Embedding Human Augmentation Technologies in The Future of Emergency Response Work
Location: Online via Zoom at https://uic.zoom.us/j/89139801511?pwd=TDIyR0Jia3JnTForMEJmWXVwem5zZz09
Meeting ID: 891 3980 1511
Please RSVP via https://forms.gle/PWXaQg7e7Xhtqq4u7 for a virtual social hour (12 – 1 PM) followed after the seminar.
Presenter: Ranjana Mehta, PhD, Texas A&M University
Abstract: Emergency response (ER) workers perform extremely physically and cognitively demanding tasks that can result in serious injuries and loss of life. Human augmentation technologies have the potential to augment workers physically and cognitively, thereby dramatically transforming the landscape of ER work, reducing injury risk, improving ER response, as well as helping attract and retain skilled ER workers. This opportunity has been significantly hindered by the lack of high-quality training for ER workers that effectively integrates innovative and intelligent augmentation solutions. Hence, new ER learning environments are needed that are adaptive, affordable, accessible, and continually available for reskilling the ER workforce as technological capabilities continue to improve. The overall vision of our NSF Convergence Accelerator project is to develop LEARNER – Learning Environments with Augmentation and Robotics for Next-gen Emergency Responders – a novel mixed-reality learning platform that includes physical, augmented, and virtual reality components. I will discuss the multidisciplinary research considerations in the design and integration of use-inspired exoskeletons and augmented reality (AR) technologies in ER processes and the identification of unique cognitive and motor learning needs of each of these technologies in context-independent and ER-relevant scenarios. A human-centered artificial intelligence (AI) enabled training framework for these technologies in ER will be presented. Finally, I will share the challenges and opportunities that our team faced as we began to tackle this convergence project, ranging from working in a multidisciplinary team to address future of work issues in the unstructured and resource-constrained work domain of emergency response, to acknowledging the tradeoffs between use-inspired and basic research approach and associated impacts, and then there was the pandemic.
Speaker Bio: Ranjana Mehta is an associate professor in the Wm. Michael Barnes Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. She is a graduate faculty with the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, director of the NeuroErgonomics Laboratory, and a faculty fellow with the Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems. Her research on understanding and mitigating fatigue and stress-related variability in worker health and performance has been funded by the NIH, NSF, NIOSH, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and several industries, and awarded by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers, and the American Public Health Association. She is the lead PI of an NSF Convergence Accelerator award aimed at developing innovative human-centered training approaches that emergency responders need to pre-skill/upskill/reskill workers in 21st century work. She serves as an associate editor of several human factors engineering and neuroergonomics journals and is an elected Executive Council Member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and Chair of the HFE WOMAN group at HFES.
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