December 11th, 2006 05:20 EST
University of Idaho Students Study B-52 Human Factors
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- Seven students and a professor from the University of Idaho visited several organizations here Dec. 5 for a subsystem evaluation on the B-52 Stratofortress.
The University of Idaho students are attending a graduate-level course, called advanced human factors, and were assigned to a class project here.
The assignment was for the students to gain familiarization with a specific subsystem on the B-52 using the MIL-STD-1472F, also known as the human factors bible, for all controls on an aircraft or vehicle. Students will evaluate a particular subsystem on the B-52 and then write a report -- a requirement for all students prior to their completion of the course.
Dr. Curt Braun, a University of Idaho associate psychology professor, said a major component of the class is the application of existing design standards or human factors guidelines.
"Since these were human factors students who are working on their masters degrees, I thought it would be nice for them to meet actual human factors engineers who work at Edwards," said Patricia Dunavold, a human factors engineering psychologist. "The students are working on cutting-edge projects that our engineers would like to hear about as well."
While on the B-52, the professor and students looked over the subsystem of the aircraft to assess how it could be improved. The professor uses several standards to evaluate systems on an aircraft or a vehicle, and students are learning those same techniques. They evaluated the cockpit and navigation system as well.
"My students and I have done multiple studies on nuclear power facilities but saw Edwards as an opportunity to evaluate a military aircraft," Dr. Braun said. "This is something we have never done before."
Dr. Braun said he has learned the value of giving his students the opportunity to show them where their education can be applied, and because the B-52 was built in the 1950s he wanted students to see its design progressions.
"The B-52 is a unique aircraft since it has been in service for so long," Dr. Braun said. "It is designed with the technical understanding that it is older than most people who fly it, and this aircraft was perfect in the human factors aspect."
After the evaluation of the B-52, students will write independent reports on what they saw and how they think they can improve a particular subsystem.
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by Airman Stacy Sanchez
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Source: U.S. Air Force