You are here

ISE Welcomes Kathryn G. Tippey

Using Cognitive Workload Metrics to Improve Systems Safety


Seminar by Kathryn G. Tippey

Human Factors Engineer

Design Science Consulting


Monday, October 22nd, 2018

11:00am – 12:00pm

210E Baker Systems

1971 Neil Avenue


Operators can become mentally overloaded in dynamic process control environments, such as driving and aviation, particularly when attempting to perform a secondary task. This may result in safety-critical errors. For example, in 2015 nearly 400,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Cognitive workload is a construct for evaluating an operator’s mental workload. An increase in cognitive workload may result in degraded task performance if an operator is dividing their attention between tasks that compete for similar mental resources, such as the task-related interference that arises when a driver is texting while driving. Measuring cognitive workload in these complex environments is thus important for informing the design of more efficient interfaces that support the input and presentation of data. Comprehensively evaluating mental workload requires the use of performance-based, subjective, and physiological metrics, to gain a clear picture of the systems’ problems and how to design effective mitigations.

In this presentation, Dr. Tippey will first discuss her quantitative and qualitative research experience in enhancing the design of multi-modal interfaces to increase safety in the driving and aviation domains. She will then review her work on patient and device safety and on patient engagement in healthcare. Finally, she will propose alternative frameworks for using mental workload to evaluate the burden of disease in patient care, bridging this concept with a broader systems-oriented perspective for evaluating the mechanisms that impact the diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions. The goal of this proposed work would be to improve the safety and effectiveness of systems involved in chronic disease management.

Kathryn G. Tippey is a Human Factors Engineer at Design Science Consulting, Inc. She is on the Editorial Board for Ergonomics in Design and is the Program Chair-Elect for the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Product Development Technical Group. She completed her Ph.D. in Industrial & Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University (2016). She received an M.S. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan (2012) and an M.A. and B.A. in Economics and B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Alabama (2009, 2010).

Dr. Tippey’s current work involves early formative and FDA validation testing of medical devices. Her research as a Postdoctoral Fellow centered on systems safety in medical environments and on novel approaches to support patients with chronic diseases. As a graduate student, Kathryn was a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award recipient and was nationally recognized by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for her work on interface design for general aviation pilots.