UCF to Use FAA Grant to Improve Airport
Security Screener Training
Airport security personnel may be better trained to recognize
potentially life-threatening security violations as a result of a
new Federal Aviation Administration research grant awarded to
members of the University of Central Florida Psychology Department
and Institute for Simulation and Training.
Heading up the project are research scientist Dr. Stephen Fiore,
associate research scholar Dr. Florian Jentsch and associate
psychology professor Dr. Clint Bowers of the Psychology
Department’s Team Performance Laboratory and Dr. Eduardo Salas,
psychology professor and research faculty member at the Institute
for Simulation and Training. They will employ the $140,000 FAA
grant to discover ways to help security screeners rapidly become
proficient in recognizing visual cues to dangerous items hidden in
After the airborne suicide attacks of September 11, 2001, world
attention quickly focused on holes in airport security that
allowed terrorists to smuggle weapons onboard commercial aircraft.
Concern that security screener accuracy was declining led the FAA
to seek scientific research to help create more efficient ways to
teach employees the necessary skills.
The UCF research team will investigate methods designed to speed up
security screeners’ ability to learn observation skills they need
to recognize dangerous items in scanned luggage.
Existing studies indicate that expert screeners may need fewer
visual cues than novices to recognize patterns that lead to
identification of items. The team hopes to isolate these expert
pattern recognition techniques and incorporate them into the
training curriculum for new security screening personnel.
“This grant represents a unique opportunity to meld some of our
current research with such an important issue,” says Dr. Fiore.
“We are all very excited to do our part in helping aviation
Four other institutions received FAA grants for security screener
research. They are University of California at Davis, Brigham and
Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, University of
Southampton, United Kingdom and State University of New York at
Modern research from the cognitive and brain sciences, according to
Dr. Fiore, is increasingly being recognized as relevant to
problems of national significance. “UCF recognizes this and
actively supports such efforts, making it an ideal environment in
which to conduct research,” Dr. Fiore says.
Members of the Psychology Department’s Team Performance Laboratory
perform basic and applied research on human performance and
cognition, specifically as they apply to team processes and team
FAA grant to improve airport security
IST gets new director
PhD offered in modeling and simulation
After Action Review System enhances training
IST Gets New Director
Randall Shumaker, superintendent of the
Information Technology Division at the Naval Research Laboratory
since 1989, has been named the new director of the Institute for
Simulation & Training at the University of Central Florida. He
leaves his position with the federal government to join the
University March 4.
Shumaker’s selection is the result of a five-month nationwide
search for a new director for IST, the university’s simulation
research institute with 135 faculty researchers, scientists and
support staff. Last year the center received $8 million in sponsored
research funding. During the vacancy, deputy director Brian Goldiez
served as interim director.
“Dr. Shumaker’s unique combination of leadership skills, computer
expertise, military experience and academic interests meshes well
with the goals of our simulation center as it enters a new era of
innovative and original research,” says M.J. Soileau, UCF’s vice
president for research.
Shumaker, 56, earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the
University of Pennsylvania in 1976. He also holds a B.S.E.E. in
electrical engineering and an M.S.E. in computing machinery from
He frequently lectures on computing –related topics for defense
organizations and has taught more than 50 computer and software
short courses, primarily for George Washington University.
As superintendent of the Information Technology Division at the
Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, Shumaker supervised a
staff of 200 conducting about $60 million of sponsored research a
year in a wide range of computing, networking and communications
disciplines. Under his guidance the division produced more than 100
refereed publications and two to three patent disclosures a year.
During his tenure as superintendent the division initiated or
significantly grew three major research efforts: autonomous systems,
very high performance computing and networking. The division also
led a major thrust into using virtual reality in decision systems.
Shumaker also served the Naval Research Laboratory as its chief
information officer and was a senior advisor for information
technology within the Navy, Department of Defense and international
Randall Shumaker is IST's new director
Master's and Ph.D. degrees are a
new addition to UCF graduate curriculum
A new UCF program of studies provides students from various
disciplines a path all the way to a doctoral degree in modeling and
Faculty and staff from IST helped design the program and IST's Dr. Peter
Kincaid is serving as co-chair with Dr. Charles Riley of the College
of Engineering and Computer Science.
Students can select from any of seven focus areas, Quantitative
Aspects of Simulation, Simulation Infrastructure, Simulation
Management, Computer Visualization in M&S, Simulation Modeling and
Analysis, Interactive Simulation/Intelligent Systems and Human
Systems in M&S.
Students can enter the program from computer science, mathematics,
psychology, engineering, digital media and other related
disciplines. Opportunities exist for research work directly with
faculty, university research scientists and M&S professionals.
Also available is access to a large array of research labs and
Peter Kincaid co-chairs the new multidisciplinary
master's and Ph.D. program in modeling and
After Action Review provides
moment-by-moment recall of training exercises
IST and the Army research Institute for the Behavioral and Social
Sciences are working together to develop a system to record and
replay simulation training exercises. The result of the research is
the After Action Review (AAR). Used to debrief trainees, the AAR
provides a common understanding of what happened during an exercise
Determining what happened during an exercise is particularly
difficult in a built-up environment where buildings and other
structures break up the visual field and limit the portion of the
battlefield that any one person can observe.
The AAR overcomes this limitation by providing opportunity to
observe what transpired from any angle or field of view. Trainees
can see what they did–or should have done–based on detailed movement
of friendly and opposing forces.
While recording the exercise the program operates as an invisible
observer (stealth mode) and can assume any viewpoint, fly freely
through the environment or jump to pre-selected viewpoints. The same
viewing alternatives are available in the playback or review mode.
A variety of exercise data can be displayed in either tabular or
The AAR system uses IST's Virtual Environment Software Sandbox (VESS),
which provides libraries for development of virtual environments.
VESS helped simplify and expedite AAR system development and allows
the system to run on various platforms and scene graph APIs.
(email@example.com) of IST and Dr. Bruce Knerr
(firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Army Research Institute
head up the project.
Bruce Knerr (in denim shirt) shows AAR's graphic interface to Dr.
Ronald M. Sega, Director of Defense Research and Engineering, during a
recent visit to IST. IST's director, Dr. Randall Shumaker (center)
accompanied Dr. Sega on a tour of simulation facilities in the Central
Florida Research Park.
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