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NEWS | June 2, 2023

Resilience and the warfighter – NSWC Dahlgren Division hosts the Department of Defense Human Factors Engineering Technical Advisory Group

By Morgan Tabor, NSWCDD Corporate Communications

How does the Department of Defense adapt to challenging experiences from the human perspective? From May 8 through May 12, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) hosted the Department of Defense (DoD) Human Factors Engineering (HFE) Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to discuss human-centered research, design and test methodologies that support the development of resilient systems.  

The HFE TAG was implemented by a memorandum of understanding signed by the Assistant Secretaries of the Services in November 1976 to coordinate, collaborate and develop research in the DoD and government agencies involved in HFE.

Human Factors Engineering is the integration of human characteristics into system definition, design, development and evaluation to optimize human-system performance under operational conditions. HFE is primarily concerned with designing human-machine interfaces consistent with the physical, cognitive and sensory abilities of the user population.

This year’s HFE TAG was hosted at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren Campus and concluded with select tours of NSWCDD’s state-of-the-art facilities. The HFE TAG provides a mechanism for the timely exchange of technical information in the development and application of HFE, by enhancing the coordination among government agencies involved in HFE technology research, development and application.

Technical representatives from the DoD, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Veterans Affairs and others gathered to collaborate and discuss research and development responsibility in human factors and related disciplines.

The week-long meeting covered technical topics, Q&A panels and training sessions. Sub-tags such as Cognitive Readiness, Controls and Displays, Cyber Security, Design: Tools & Techniques, Extreme Environments, HFE/Human System Integration, Human Performance Measurement, etc. provided forums for discussion, presentations and collaborations on state-of-the-art advancements in the disciplines.

“This is overall a fantastic opportunity for all of us to get together, to learn from each other and then also collaborate,” said guest speaker Cmdr. Wilfred Wells, Ph.D., from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense. “Resilience is a key property of systems that enable us to be successful and provide the ability of the system to sustain itself even when it has been exposed to expected and unexpected events.”

The group explored many different outlooks and viewpoints from several organizations on the topic. The visitors had opportunities to attend professional development trainings such as Applying Model-Based Systems Engineering in Human Systems Integration, SAE 6906 Standard Practice from Human Systems Integration and Civilian Warrior Toughness.

“We are working to grow the discipline of system engineering and human factors and how they tie together at Dahlgren,” said NSWCDD’s Technical Director Dale Sisson Jr., SES. “Intelligent autonomy is centered on how we manipulate timely, relevant and accurate data to make the warfighter systems behave effectively. One of the reasons we bring this committee together is to continue to advance the discipline that makes up HSI and the HFE world."

The HFE TAG toured NSWCDD’s directed energy facilities and the Human Performance Lab. The HPL allows the Combat Control and Cross-Platform Engineering Department to leverage a multi-disciplinary team across all human performance domains to execute HSI research, design, testing and acquisition support to Navy and DoD customers. The visitors spent time in NSWCDD’s Reconfigurable Lab, which includes a 90 feet by 35 feet space housing ship system components ranging from a 3D large-scale bridge model to a single console prototype. 

The HFE TAG group also toured the High Energy Laser Weapon Systems Lethality Lab where the visitors learned about the lab’s test set-up, procedures and capabilities. They witnessed a demonstration that showed the lethality effect of a laser on a thin piece of metal.

“The TAG is great for awareness and visibility of our capabilities here at NSWCDD,” said NSWCDD’s Human Systems Integration Branch head Anita Kirkland. “It was great to have them in our spaces seeing exactly what we do here to support the warfighter and to be able to leverage opportunities to collaborate.”