Synesthesia. Syne-what? Synesthesia (sinəsˈTHēZHə)! From Dictionary.com, synesthesia is "a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color." Go on the synesthesia journey with one of QIC's Research Psychologists, Corinne Novell, as she discusses the visualizations produced by different flavors!
This week QIC is celebrating the promotion of Ms. Kati Anglin from an intern position to a full-time Human Factors Engineer. We’re all thrilled to have her on board full-time! Kati joined QIC last June, right as she was starting her PhD in Human Factors at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She was interested in gaining industry experience, and the work we do was appealing because she feels strongly about supporting our Service members. Kati worked with Dr. Jen Murphy to identify a part of an ongoing project that could serve as a dissertation topic, and she successfully defended her proposal in February. Shortly after her defense, Kati was in the field at Ft. Benning collecting her dissertation data. During that week, she practiced her marksmanship skills in the EST 2000 trainer, collected psychomotor skills data using the CANTAB, collected data using an experimental marksmanship trainer in the cold, damp woods, and collected live fire qualification scores for over 100 Soldiers. A paper summarizing her findings has been accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and she’s in the process of writing her first I/ITSEC paper.
In addition to all of this, Kati led a white paper that was accepted for a subsequent round of evaluation, developed content for a mobile application, and supported a number of other Army research efforts. Looking back over the past year, we're not sure how she’s accomplished so much in so little time, but we're thankful for it! She’s a tremendous addition to our team.
I recently was invited to Atlantic High School in Port Orange, FL to be a part of a monthly event called Lunch with a Scientist. This event is an opportunity for students to meet professionals in science related fields, learn about what they do and the path that brought them there. It is called Lunch with a Scientist because it is a voluntary event held during their lunch hour. Stacey Bell, an aquaculture, environmental, and marine sciences (AEMS) teacher, established this event through the numerous contacts she made throughout her career as a field biologist and environmentalist. Dawn Alves, a science coach at Atlantic High school, says "Lunch with a Scientist was created to allow student exposure to various scientist working in the field, gain real world experiences, understand college tracks and readiness, and to promote interest in pursuing science beyond high school. The goal is to get as much diversity as possible."
Atlantic High Schools is evolving into a wall-to-wall academy structure meaning they are offering various tracks that focus on a specialty, similar to a college major, which allow students to explore and get a jump start on their career path. Just as difficult as it may be to choose a college major, it is even more difficult for high school students to determine the path they want to take. Hence, Lunch with a Scientist is a great opportunity for student to see the assortment of science related fields that exist. Even more so, it is an opportunity for students to meet the people that work in these fields. All too often, when high school students hear the word ‘scientist’ they think of an older gentleman with a beard and glasses wearing a lab coat and peering through a microscope. Even though this may describe many professionals, this is only a small demographic, and I helped to break that stereotype.
So what did I talk about? I gave a presentation on human factors (HF) engineering and the path that led me to a career in this field. Students were very interested when I told them that HF can be applied anywhere there is a human. They were also interested in what my life was outside of work, because another misconception is that work consumes your life, but if you enjoy what you do, then the boundary between work and life can get blurred. I explained how much I travel for business and leisure, all of the sports and activities I am involved with, and how I try to combine them with work so that I can get paid to learn more about the things that interest me, while simultaneously contributing to the field. I also made it a point to explain that if they start today, they could get their college tuition completely paid for through various scholarships, assistantships, stipends, etc. I also strongly emphasized the importance of meeting people in the field and establishing a working relationship early because who you know can sometimes be more valuable than what you know. The push for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) efforts is growing stronger and it is our duty to help shape posterity and Lunch with a Scientist is a chance to change the lives of those who will be running the country and taking care of us when we get old. We at QIC are doing our part, now it’s time for you all to join.
If you are interested in participating in this event or other related events, please contact Dawn Alves: Phone: 386-322-6100 extension 38155, email: email@example.com
Sr. Human Factors Engineer, Tarah Daly takes on the 30-Day challenge and discusses habit formation in this video. Check it out!
I've recently had several ride-sharing experiences that really got me thinking about efficiency (or lack thereof) not only in my day to day personal life, but also in my professional life and how the desire for efficiency impacts our people, products, and services. In my current position, one of my goals is to ensure that QIC runs efficiently on a daily basis. Therefore, I typically approach my work, with a mindset geared toward efficiency - aiming to achieve desired results with as little wasted time and energy as possible. When thinking about efficiency in automated or machine-related environments, the goal is to reduce friction to the greatest extent possible. In collaborative work environments, the goal is much the same however, we're not dealing with machines, but with groups of people, and the friction we're removing are barriers to success.
Certainly being able to work efficiently in a professional capacity has its benefits, indicated by the countless articles on the "X Things Efficient People Do." Efficient workers tend to get promoted more frequently, tend to be better communicators, and often have less work stress while having more time to do the things they enjoy. Individuals who are efficient tend to not multitask (see my multitasking post from last year, here), are good at delegating, use clear and concise communication, schedule their activities, set aside time for rest, and plan their projects among other things. Sounds good, right?
From a business perspective, entire methodologies such as Lean / Six Sigma are dedicated to improving business processes to ensure efficiency. Recently UPS was in the headlines (for revealing that they use computer software to guide their driver's routes, which helps to eliminate unnecessary left-hand turns. The strategy and software helped the company save 20.4 million miles, which obviously translates to significant time, maintenance, and fuel savings across their fleet. Again, all good stuff.
There are however, countless articles on why working efficiently is bad for the individual and even how to go about shaping management's perception of your workload. Reasons individuals may actually suffer from being too efficient stem from having more work piled on because they finished their assigned work quickly, having fellow employees resent them for setting a higher standard, or being seen as a slacker by management because they may not always have work to do - again, because you finished it quickly. Outside of the workplace, the desire for too much efficiency could actually produce greater anxiety, frustration, and stress.
In terms of business management, while a focus on efficiency may be beneficial from a bottom-line or a work output perspective, there are critical aspects of a business that may actually suffer from too great of a focus on efficiency. In automated and machine-related environments it makes sense to always strive for greater efficiency. However, in our team-based environment too much efficiency could create a climate in which interactions between colleagues become unnecessarily limited and colleagues don’t get to know each other. Additionally, if processes are too efficient it may limit individual's ability actively think about situations, problems, and their context and stymie innovation.
While we strive for efficiency in the work we do - better, faster, less expensive - it's important to always remember who actually makes it possible for us to meet our customer's needs. When working in a collaborative setting, efficiency is one important part of the equation, but we can't forget the people who must interact with our processes to create our products and services. Have you experienced collaborative environments that are too efficient? Have you seen an over-emphasis on efficiency hinder innovation and suppress colleague bonding? Let me know!
Some of you may recall that a few months ago, I was momentarily enchanted with Pokémon GO and then got totally bored and stopped playing it, along with the rest of the world. With the new year, I wanted to give you an update on the game that continues to disappoint, but demonstrates so much about the art of the possible with mobile gaming and augmented reality.
This past November, rumors started to fly about a special Christmas update to the application. Legendary Pokémon! Pokémon trading! Something called a Typhlosion! Hundreds of new Pokémon released into the wild! Having a very limited understanding of the Pokémon universe, I had no idea what any of that meant, but I was interested. Finally, I thought, something to catch that's not a pigeon or a cranky looking rat. In early December, the update hit the streets, and we got…
Pikachu. With a Santa hat.
In addition, Niantic released five of what appear to be baby Pokémon, but there was a catch: You can only hatch them from eggs. Hatching Pokémon eggs is one of the more tedious aspects of the game, because it requires you to walk a certain distance with the app running. Five eggs and 25 km later, I'd only hatched one of the new ones. This is a clever tactic to get players to spend money within the game; you can purchase additional egg incubators which enable you to hatch multiple eggs at once. They did not get my money, as I do not tend to spend money on boring things in order to make them more interesting. I do tend to cheat them, however.
There are many video games I have become bored with and cheated to win. I'm not the only one, either. In her book Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Video Games, Mia Consalvo discusses the reasons people cheat at video games. Reasons include being stuck, wanting to explore expanded boundaries within the game, maliciousness, and just being bored. These findings were corroborated by researchers at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University who found that students self-reported wanting to progress or gain an advantage over others as primary reasons for their cheating behavior (Doherty et al., 2014). In this case, I fell into the "bored" category.
So how do you cheat at Pokémon GO? The primary objective of the game is to "catch them all," however they are not all accessible to you at any one place. Success requires you to travel, as some critters are only available on specific continents. To fill out the Pokedex, a player would have to travel the world…or at least their phone's GPS would have to reflect that. It turns out that in Android's developer mode, it's fairly straightforward to spoof your GPS location and navigate with a virtual joystick. If your phone's GPS thinks it's in Tokyo, Pokémon GO does as well. Cheating is not without its risks. Niantic has banned players from using fake location data, as well as other cheats, but at this point I decided that getting banned from this game was probably not a horrible thing for my productivity anyway, and it was probably worth it.
Over the next few weeks, I went to London to catch Mr. Mime, Tokyo to catch Farfetch'd, and Sydney to catch Kangaskhan. I spent a lot of time in New York's Central Park and Times Square. After a few hours, I realized something interesting: I'm actually pretty familiar with the layout of Central Park just from navigating the map in the game. I know that the zoo is one of the southernmost points in the park, and that Carnegie Hall is a couple of blocks away. I can get from Bryant Park to Times Square by going north and west. And now that all the Starbucks locations are Pokestops, I'm real sure I could get you a cup of coffee in ten minutes if you dropped me anywhere in the middle of Manhattan. This makes sense, given every Pokestop is a labeled landmark, and while not high fidelity, the map provides enough information for me to know where the roads are and the difference between land and water.
Whether this learning transfers to the real world is an empirical question. To find out, I'd have to take a trip to the Big Apple. While the Pokémon people probably never intended it, they may have tapped into a paradigm for incidental spatial learning. For example, an incoming university student could familiarize themselves with a large campus prior to their first day of class through playing a similar game. Soldiers could learn landmarks in a new operational environment before they deploy. Astronauts headed to distant planets could learn a new landscape through a game during the long flight. While other methods might be more effective, this might be a fun avenue to explore!
"By the last day, I/ITSEC attendees Jennifer Solberg Murphy and Sae Schatz cut their way through the news and marketing chatter" of the larger defense contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing, CAE, and Cubic Defense.
Interesting insight from the Twitter competition at Interservice / Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference
Quantum Improvements Consulting is pleased to announce that we continue to grow and continue to seek exceptional talent to join our team! Both, Dr. Corinne Novell and Dr. Julian Abich IV have joined the QIC team this month and bring with them a breadth of expertise ranging from modeling and simulation and human-robot interaction to feedback receptivity and the ogranizational impact of individual's belief systems. We are thrilled to have Corinne and Julian as part of the QIC team! You can read more about each of them below.
Dr. Corinne Novell is a Research Psychologist at Quantum Improvements Consulting. Dr. Novell has over 10 years of research experience in the social sciences. After receiving her BS and AB (2007) at The University of Georgia, Dr. Novell earned her MS (2010) and Ph.D. (2012) in Social Psychology at the University of Florida. Subsequently, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the University of Cincinnati’s Marketing Department, and had an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Consumer Science at Purdue University. Dr. Novell is passionate about human performance and related outcomes. In 2008, she interned at the Orlando-based Human Performance Institute, a training and development company that aims to improve people’s performance in high-stress venues. Also, since 2013 she has been part of a research team that identifies predictors of performance in both educational and organizational settings. Her research is consistently aligned with human performance applications. Dr. Novell's research focuses how individual differences and work environment characteristics affect communication processes and outcomes in performance environments. Currently, she is interested in people’s receptivity to feedback in feedback environments, what influences people’s feedback receptivity, and how feedback receptivity affects organizational outcomes. Additionally, Dr. Novell examines the effects of people's beliefs in work settings. In her most recent work, she examines how beliefs about fixedness impact work-related behaviors as well as consumer choices with the goal of helping employees, organizations, and consumers to optimize decision-making across contexts.
Dr. Julian Abich IV is a Senior Human Factors Engineer at Quantum Improvements Consulting. Julian holds a Ph.D. in Modeling and Simulation with a specialization in Human Factors, a B.S. in Psychology, and two certificates in Design for Usability and Instructional Design for Simulations from the University of Central Florida. He has over 10 years of experience applying human factors & ergonomics principles, modeling & simulation approaches, and instructional design methodology to the assessment, prediction, and improvement of human performance, usability & user experience, human-computer interaction, human-robot interaction, human systems integration, and training. His past work concentrated on investigating the role subjective, objective, and physiological measures play in assessing workload and stress in complex environments to ultimately build a closed-loop system, such as one involving a human and robot team or adaptive trainers. Taking a user-centered approach, his recent research focused on assessing the usability and cognitive demands of multimodal communication to enable human-robot teaming, specifically between dismounted Soldiers and autonomous robotic platforms. Julian also advocates for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) outreach efforts by encouraging public support and fostering posterity’s interest within these domains.
Quantum Improvements Consulting (QIC) was recently awarded a prime contract through the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative to develop the Financial Readiness Personal Assistant for Learning (PAL). QIC in partnership with Float Mobile Learning LLC (Float), were recently awarded a contract to develop a mobile application to support Service member financial literacy and preparedness. This application will engage users through providing “bite-sized,” personally relevant, multimedia content. To encourage continued use, the application will feature motivational elements, such as push notifications, gamification, and social engagement. In addition to educational content, validated financial tools most relevant to Service members and their unique needs will be incorporated. Our vision is a user-friendly application that helps Service members make sound financial decisions throughout their careers and supports lifelong learning.
Military personnel’s financial needs and goals change throughout their lives, both during their military service and after separation. To address these changing needs, 10 U.S. Code § 992 requires financial literacy training to be provided to Service members at multiple stages of their careers. Service members are required to have financial literacy training during initial entry training, at their first duty station, on the date of their promotion (up to E-5 or O-3), when they vest in the Thrift Savings Plan, during leadership training, during pre- and post-deployment training, at major life events, and at separation. Tailoring training content to the individual Service member based on factors such as their current financial situation, goals, and career stage would encourage consistent financial planning and maximize training effectiveness.
Jennifer Murphy, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of QIC stated “We are proud to support the ADL Initiative by providing a solution to the very important problem of Service member financial readiness. Supporting service members and their families is something I’ve always felt strongly about, and this is a tremendous opportunity to leverage technology to give them the tools and information they need to make smart financial decisions. We’re especially excited to work with Float, an industry leader in mobile training development. And of course, this project presents a growth opportunity for us. We’ve got some very talented people joining our team in the near future!”
Quantum Improvements Consulting, LLC (QIC), founded in 2014 by Dr. Jennifer Murphy, is an EDWOSB that works to enhance human performance and effectiveness throughout the product or service lifecycle, reducing risk, improving productivity, and increasing return on investment. QIC conducts research and development to address customers’ training and performance assessment needs. QIC brings expertise in adaptive training, mobile learning, and game-based training.
As QIC enters its third year of business, I'm proud to say we continue to grow. I'm thankful to the people who trust us to do great work and have given us new opportunities to support Warfighters through some really exciting projects. The icing on the cake has been the ability to bring on some very talented researchers. I'm particularly honored to announce our latest addition to the QIC team, Mrs. Tarah Daly, as a Senior Human Factors Engineer.
I first met Tarah in 2010 while she was a graduate student in the Modeling and Simulation program at the University of Central Florida. I was at the Army Research Institute at the time, and was leading a project developing training for the cognitive skills related to visual IED detection. Tarah was a student under Dr. Jim Szalma, with whom I was working to develop videogame-based training for vigilance. The software platform we were using was not designed to support a research project, and consequently there were some quirks involved in working with it. During one visit to the PeRL lab, it became apparent that Tarah had taught herself everything about the software and was fixing the bugs on her own. In addition, she was effectively running the research project despite being the most junior researcher on the entire team. I told her at the time that she didn't have to do that, and that it was above and beyond my expectations of her. She knew. She just wanted to learn it. It was then that I first knew she was special.
At QIC, we value a mindset of continuous improvement. One of the things I admire most about Tarah is her never-ending quest for learning and self-development. Every time I see her, she's taught herself something new, whether it's sign language, how to prepare vegan meals, or how to code. Tarah is also extremely conscientious and goal-oriented. Once, I asked her what she wanted to be when she "grew up." She responded with a letter, describing in detail her plans for education, family, and a career. I have no doubt she'll be able to reach all of her goals, and I look forward to being able to support her along her path. More importantly, I'm looking forward to the positive changes she'll bring to QIC and I know we'll be a much better company for having her.
These posts are written or shared by QIC team members. We find this stuff interesting, exciting, and totally awesome! We hope you do too!