This blog post was shared with us by the Modeling and Simulation Information Analysis Center (MSIAC). It is the 19th entry in our 22-part series produced by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC).
What’s one of the most complex parts of any weapons system? Most would guess it has to do with some highly technical, highly sensitive manufactured component. Actually, one of the most complex, and often challenging, aspects of any system is the human element — the human beings actually using the system.
The human element is critical to the design of any product or system. From the developers of the iPad to the Joint Strike Fighter, successful organizations must account for and test how their system will interact with the users. In fact, every system developed for the Department of Defense (DoD), whether it’s a new radar, weapon, or aircraft, goes through a series of tests and evaluations to understand the human interface. Organizations can improve the tests of their systems through modeling and simulation (M&S) since M&S provides additional opportunities to evaluate systems and ensure they are designed and developed with both human capabilities and limitations in mind.
In an effort to increase their understanding of the human element, the U.S. Air Force contacted the Modeling and Simulation Information Analysis Center (MSIAC). In response, the MSIAC developed a number of innovative approaches for quantifying the impact of Human Systems Integration (HSI) on weapon system availability. Specifically, MSIAC explored HSI domains in extreme environments, workload theory and warfighter-system interaction. In addition to testing these domains, the MSIAC began working on new assessments and processes that will eventually encompass the full range of human performance. Included in this new range will be various psychological stressors, such as emotional and physical exhaustion.
To combine these findings along with the algorithms that help model human performance, the MSIAC uses the Army’s Improved Performance Research Integration Tool (IMPRINT). IMPRINT is a discrete event, task-network human performance modeling and simulation tool designed to understand warfighter-system performance interaction. Using IMPRINT to model MSIAC’s findings is significant on multiple fronts. First, it shows the power of inter-service sharing information. It also aligns perfectly with the IAC business model of reusing existing information and technology. MSIAC has also used IMPRINT in previous efforts to model human performance for a number of fixed wing systems including the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, F-15E, and the C-130J.
Thanks to the MSIAC’s efforts in human performance modeling, the Air Force has a stronger analytical foundation on which to build. It also has greater insights into the capabilities and limitations of users in regards to both weapons systems availability and certain fixed wing systems. Results from MSIAC’s work will assist on a cross service and joint basis to ensure the success of future human performance efforts. So, the next time you pick up an iPad or see a plane flying through the sky, remember that the most important part of any system is ultimately the user.
The Modeling and Simulation Information Analysis Center (MSIAC) is one of ten Information Analysis Centers (IACs) established by DoD and managed by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). MSIAC is the DoD Center of Excellence responsible for acquiring, archiving, analyzing, synthesizing, and disseminating scientific and technical information related to Modeling and Simulation.
(U.S. Air Force Photo)