Aviation Human Factors and Safety Degrees

Human factors refers to the field of study that attempts to identify the principles of human-machine interaction and applies those principles to the design and operation of engineered systems. Safety, generally considered a subset of human factors, is arguably the most important aspect of engineered systems that the study of human factors strives to improve. Although the range of engineered systems of interest in human factors is very wide, the human factors programs through the College of Aeronautics concentrate on human factors in aviation.

Human factors and safety are paramount in all aspects of the modern aviation industry. Human factors in aviation examines the various characteristics of users and the systems in which they work. Aviation-related human factors studies range from aircraft cockpit design and maintenance methods and procedures to complex ground-based entities such as the National Airspace System. Human factors is now recognized as an indispensable component of systems design and evaluation, accident investigation and prevention, simulation, training, procedures development and system performance testing. Considerable research is being conducted in this field by government and private entities around the world.

The Programs

Human factors and safety covers a broad array of topics from psychology to engineering, the College of Aeronautics has developed a few degree programs in an effort to increase the importance human factors and safety in aviation. Degrees focused on human factors in aviation as well as aviation safety are available at both the graduate and undergraduate levels at Florida Tech.

Human Performance

Students of human factors and safety learn how human performance plays a factor in aviation systems. Students examine how stress, fatigue, anxiety, and error, have an effect on human performance. Information processing models, human error, language, and signal-detection theory are all key concepts in the study of human performance. A thorough understanding of factors affecting human performance and how individuals identify and process information helps students of human factors in aviation to develop processes and systems with improved efficiency, ease of use, and safety.

Situational Awareness and Decision Making

Situational awareness and decision making are very important aspects of human factors in general and even more so of human factors in aviation. In the cockpit of a commercial aircraft, the awareness and decision making of the pilots and crew can decide the safety of the flight. Students of human factors and safety examine individual, distributed and collaborative awareness, and decision making and available flight deck information to understand and improve situational awareness and decision making in the complex cockpit environment.

Aviation Safety

Students of human factors and safety in aviation study a variety material and methods that are key to analyzing aviation safety. Students explore safety databases, team performance analysis, and safety management systems in order to develop a strong foundation for aviation safety management. Students of human factors and safety in aviation also have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of aviation accident investigation by using some of the same tools and techniques used by the NTSB, FAA, and ICAO. Students learn investigation techniques and lab methods for reconstructing accidents and how to analyze flight mishaps using the resources available to them.