Ferris delivers talk

Image of Thomas Ferris

Dr. Thomas K. Ferris, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, gave a talk at the Houston Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s seminar held recently at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center in the George Bush Presidential Library. The title of Ferris’ talk was, “Supporting human information processing and multitasking performance via novel display design.”


Ferris, an assistant professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the director of  the Human Factors & Cognitive Systems (HF&CS) Lab at Texas A&M University researches cognitive function and performance of humans in engineered systems, and designs technologies to support humans in “cognitively-challenging” contexts. Ferris summarizes his research interests as the study of, and design to support, human cognition in sociotechnical engineered systems.  His primary focus involves human information processing and ways to support attention and task management to maximize multitasking performance.


His recent work includes investigating novel interface design techniques, especially employing alternative display modalities such as the sense of touch.  Other research interests include modeling humans in complex systems, human error, human automation interaction, and the effects of stress and time pressure on cognitive functions such as attention and decision making. Ferris has interest and experience in  applying his research  to the domains of medicine (anesthesiology, neonatal intensive care, patient monitoring), military operations (command and control, UV control and operations), aviation (cockpit automation, air traffic control), and ground transportation.


In this seminar, Ferris introduced basic information processing theory and examples of key design contexts, such as multitasking while driving and communicating basic instructions to a person under extreme stress. He highlighted some past and current HF&CS research efforts to study information processing phenomena and to define a new measure of “cognitive efficiency” that can be used to describe communication effectiveness for systems involving human and technological components. The talk also focused on the design of novel displays to support humans in these contexts.