This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Designing for the Improvement of Operator Situation Awareness In Automation Systems




Pridmore, Jeannie

Type of Degree





The enhancement of operator situation awareness (SA) has become a major design goal for automation systems, in a wide variety of fields, including aviation, aerospace, nuclear plants, and advanced manufacturing systems. One can easily grasp that SA has always been needed in order for people to perform tasks effectively and efficiently. For many years, having good SA was largely a matter of learning what to watch and listen for in the field and learning what cues to recognize in the physical process, in other words, training and field experience. Today, operators rely on the principles and design of human computer interaction (HCI) to observe and comprehend the overwhelming amount of process data that can vary rapidly. It is widely accepted that more data does not equate to more information. In many cases, instead of assisting in this issue, automation has only worsened the problem (Endsley & Kiris, 1995; Sarter & Woods, 1995). Human factors research involves discovering and applying information about human behavior, abilities, limitations, and other characteristics to the design of machines, systems, and environments for productive, safe, comfortable, and effective human use (Chapanis, 1985). This research paradigm seeks to determine relationships between stimuli presented to a human and the action they take. To apply human factors in HCI design, one must investigate the system’s users, how they think, use technology, and interpret their environment. The design of the interface will determine the extent, to which SA and information processing are optimized, and ultimately, the efficiency and effectiveness of an operator and automation system. The proposed designs will be evaluated by conducting a laboratory experiment using a microworld (MW) environment that will assess each interface design according to the ideas proposed by the SA theory. An overview is first provided to highlight the study and the type of data that will be collected from each experiment. Next, the MW methodology that will be used for the proposed study is explained along with a description of the interface to be used in the study, and the specific tasks the study participants will be asked to complete.