PHOTO: A graduate student conducting an experiment using the human factors airplane simulator.

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University of Idaho
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Student using the HUman Factors airplane simulator

Human Factors Program Earns Accreditation

It’s been signed, sealed, delivered: The University of Idaho’s human factors psychology program has been accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society through July 2019. The program offers a Master of Science in human factors psychology.

“Earning this accreditation for the first time shows that the University of Idaho and the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences is strategically investing in programs that provide students the opportunity to do cutting edge research and make an impact on society’s safety and wellness,” said Traci Craig, department of psychology and communication studies chair. “Our human factors psychology faculty do a remarkable job training our graduate students to apply their knowledge and skills in real world settings and are truly preparing our students to make a difference.”

The human factors program, an interdisciplinary effort between human factors specialists in the department of psychology and communication studies and the College of Engineering, focuses on improving ways people interact with their environment. Students focus on designing more human-friendly technology and safer workplace environments.

“This accreditation attests to the success of our students and faculty ” said Todd Thorsteinson, director of human factors psychology program. “Beyond what we teach our students, this also will help them be better prepared to secure a career after graduation.”

Combining the human experience with technology, students in the program have worked on projects determining how much noise an electronic car should make to be safe for pedestrians, innovative display technologies in modern aircraft cockpits and large industrial control rooms to quickly and efficiently convey important information – alarms, navigational displays, dynamic maps or innovative peripheral displays, new ways to enhance computer security through graphical authentication systems, and trying to identify levels of human workload and stress.

“I am excited about the accreditation which serves as a recognition of the quality of the program and the work of faculty and students,” said John Mihelich, interim dean in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. “This is another important example of how our programs prepare students to have an impact on community, industry and quality of life.”

The program currently serves 17 on-campus students and 18 distance graduate studies. Graduates commonly obtain human factors positions in industry, such as Battelle, Diamond Technology Partners, IBM, Lockheed, Martin Rockwell Collins, Microsoft, Boeing, and Intel, engage in consulting work or continue their academic studies in a doctoral program.