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NPS Launches Online Human Systems Integration Program

The Naval Postgraduate School has launched a new distance learning (DL) certificate program in Human Systems Integration (HSI) open to all federal government personnel – U.S. civilians, Department of Defense contractors, and officer and enlisted military – as well as international students.

The four courses in the one-year, all-online interdisciplinary program are designed to educate and train Human Systems Integration practitioners in the state-of-the-art policies and processes needed to conduct HSI in Department of Defense and other federal agencies. The course begins each summer quarter and is designed to be applicable towards a resident HSI master’s degree or a resident master’s degree in Systems Engineering, as the elective track. Classes are asynchronous, and instructors are regularly available by e-mail.

Leading the creation and development of the new distance learning curricula was HSI Program Director, Operations Research (OR) Senior Lecturer and retired Army Col. Lawrence Shattuck. Assisting in the two-year effort was OR Associate Professor Anita Miller, affectionately known as “Dr. Snooze” by students and colleagues for her research on the effects of sleep deprivation and fatigue on human performance. Before coming to NPS, Shattuck was the Engineering Psychology Program Manager and Laboratory Director at the U.S. Military Academy.

“You’ve heard of the expression ‘The human in the loop?’” Miller asked rhetorically. “The Department of Defense and other federal agencies are increasingly recognizing that the human is the loop -- that people are critical components in any complex system -- and that their capabilities and limitations need to be researched, documented and integrated if the system as a whole is to achieve optimal performance.”

“As a result, HSI has become a vital aspect in the acquisition of DoD and other federal systems,” said Shattuck. “And though it’s now mandated by many organizations as part of their acquisition process, there are few practitioners who have the actual knowledge, skills and abilities to perform HSI. That’s why we created this new distance learning program -- to equip a new cadre of HSI practitioners with what they need to ensure their agencies’ systems are designed, developed and deployed with appropriate consideration for human operators, maintainers and supervisors, making explicit the lifecycle tradeoffs across all HSI domains – manpower, personnel, training and human factors engineering -- to optimize total system performance within cost constraints.”

“This course is unique in the nation,” Shattuck said. “There are other programs that take existing human factors or systems engineering classes that may or may not be relevant to HSI and create DL courses around them. But we’re the only one where the demand and content came from our stakeholders, who told us what they wanted, and we’ve melded that with the best content and instructors from over six years of world class faculty experience teaching in-residence HSI courses.”

“The impetus for this was from sponsors like the Air Force, NASA, NAVSEA, NAVAIR and SPAWAR who contacted us and said they needed something less than a two-year in-residence curricula that their personnel could take without having to leave their jobs, whose content could be applied to their positions on a daily basis, and still get graduate credit,” Miller added.

“What’s so incredible is that this is what we’ve always dreamed of doing,” she said. “NPS has such incredible resources that we’ve been able to bring together. We’ve pulled in faculty expertise in HSI, Systems Engineering, Organizational Behavior, Manpower, Personnel Training, Habitability and Human Factors and integrated them all into an asynchronous distance learning program.”

Thirty distance learning students are currently enrolled in the inaugural HSI DL course, which began July 6. The first cohort is comprised of three in-residence NPS officer students; DoD civilians enrolled in the university’s DL master’s degree program in Systems Engineering, all of whose jobs involve human systems integration or systems acquisition; and three DoD contractors.

Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation (MOVES) Ph.D. student Air Force Lt. Col. Anthony Tvaryanas, M.D., who was the HSI lead for unmanned aircraft systems including the Predator and Reaper for the 311th Performance Enhancement Directorate at Brooks City-Base, Texas, is excited about the new course.

“NPS is the only school with an HSI Department, anywhere,” said Tvaryanas. “All the HSI I’d had before was ad hoc and learned on the job, and this program is cutting edge and extremely unique. I wanted to come here for a long time to work with Nita [Miller] and Larry [Shattuck], who are recognized world experts in this emerging field, which has become increasingly important as systems become more and more complex and technology is increasingly seen as the enabler of humans in the loop.

“I’m very pleased with the course, and with the NPS DL Systems Engineering master’s program, which together make an awesome HSI practitioner,” Tvaryanas added. “There’s very good linkage between the content and operational relevance. There are many things I’ve picked up here that, had I known them then, would have been invaluable working with the Air Force Performance Enhancement Directorate.”

Army Maj. Francisco Baez, an NPS graduate in Operations Research who is currently serving as Operations Research Analyst for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Analysis Center in Monterey, is also a student in the first HSI DL course.

“The Army is soldier-centric, so human factors and human systems integration is important in everything we do, and the Army has set the standard for championing HSI,” Baez said. “This course is both relevant and challenging, and I’m glad that I’m taking it.”

“We want to thank our partners in the NPS Center for Educational Design, Development and Distribution (CED3) who translated the vision we had for the program into an amazing online reality,” said Shattuck. “These guys are incredible -- the best kept secret at NPS.

“CED3 Director Tom Mastre was behind the project all the way,” he added. “The development lead was instructional designer Sherrill Meaney. Lead programmer Phil McCullick did the graphics, and instructional designer Dianna Beardslee and marketing and communication specialist Mike DiFranco worked with offsite designer Mike Northcutt to create an incredible ‘edumercial' []. Other members of their team were Director of Faculty Development Ali Rodgers, graphic architect and programmer Diane Jones who designed the interactive media element to supplement the coursework and student support coordinator Nikki Brink.”

“Larry [Shattuck] came to us in November 2008 and told us what they wanted to do, and we were really excited, because this is the kind of project we live for,” said Meaney. “It’s so wide open, and we worked as a team to bring their vision for interactive media into reality in a very creative way. We even designed a new online post-and-assess tool for this project.”

“CED3 provides tremendous added value to NPS by helping faculty develop distributed learning programs that can reach students anywhere in the world,” Meaney said.

“We also want to thank the Air Force 711th Human Performance Wing,” said Shattuck. “Their financial support made the curriculum development for Course 1 possible.”

Naval Postgraduate School HSI faculty are experts in -- and often directly involved in the development of -- the latest cutting edge HSI policies, tools and processes, interacting on a regular basis with leaders in the field from all DoD uniformed services and other federal agencies, including NASA and the Department of Homeland Security. Faculty members are widely published and actively engaged in research in human factors; operations research; systems engineering; computer science; manpower/personnel training; and business management.

The four courses in the new distance learning certificate program are Introduction to HSI; HSI in the Acquisition Lifecycle; HSI Tools, Tradeoffs and Processes; and HSI Case Studies and Applications.

“It’s exciting to be launching the first HSI distance learning course,” said “Dr. Snooze.” “But this is only the first of four, and now that we’re up and running, our sponsors are already requesting a DL master’s and even DL Ph.D. program. So there’s a lot of work before we sleep.”

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