AwardsInventXRNSFSuperintendents

Technology-Human Integrated Knowledge Education and Research (THINKER)

Sponsor: Clemson University

Laine Mears [email protected] (Principal Investigator)
Amy Apon (Co-Principal Investigator)
Deborah Switzer (Co-Principal Investigator)
Mary Kurz (Co-Principal Investigator)
Joshua Summers (Co-Principal Investigator)
Laura Stanley (Former Co-Principal Investigator)

ABSTRACT

The pervasiveness of new digital technologies in manufacturing is changing the way that data are generated, interpreted and shared over networks of machines, robotics and software systems. This “industrial internet of things” holds great promise for improving the quality and productivity of manufacturing in the United States. However, the ability of human workers to effectively interface with such digital systems is limited, potentially leading to disruptions in cognition that may negatively affect output and job satisfaction. This National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award prepares master’s and doctoral degree students at Clemson University to advance discoveries at the nexus of humans, technology, work, and health, through the convergence of human factors, robotics, cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence, systems engineering, education, manufacturing and social behavioral sciences. This will be achieved through the design and integration of human digital technologies that enhance humans’ physical and cognitive interaction and abilities in manufacturing environments. The project anticipates training fifty (50) M.S. and Ph.D. students, including twenty-two (22) funded trainees, from electrical engineering, industrial engineering, computer science, manufacturing, systems integration, psychology, and sociology. These students will interface with a parallel program of undergraduate and technical college students in a controlled manufacturing environment to test deployment and integration across multiple academic levels.

This project responds to the critical need to help shape and better prepare the STEM graduate student of tomorrow through an innovated curriculum that focuses on the new digital and smart manufacturing, automation, and associated data systems. The training and research takes a human-centered design approach in the emerging digital manufacturing enterprise (i.e., Industrial Internet of Things), by quantifying physical and human cognition and developing augmented technologies (e.g. augmented reality aids for worker empowerment) to improve worker behaviors and attitudes in the manufacturing enterprise. This project will focus on an automotive industry exemplar (i.e., vehicle assembly operation), employing a factory setting which includes parts manufacture, structural and subassembly operations, robotics, kitting, logistics, and a full-scale vehicle assembly line, together with parallel programs in undergraduate and technical college curricula. The multi-level educational approach is expected to drive improved team communication, generate knowledge on worker behaviors and attitudes, and prepare students for leading implementation of the technologies under study in manufacturing and other industries.

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas through comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs.

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