Virtual Seminar: The Dynamics of Work

Seminar by Dr. Amy R. Pritchett

Professor and Head

Department of Aerospace Engineering

Pennsylvania State University


The concept of work reflects a unique and beautiful interplay in which workers understand their environment well enough to mirror it, patterning and adapting the dynamics around them to a desired end.  This dynamic becomes even richer once it extends to teamwork.  The presentation will start with a discussion of debates about agency and ecology – is Simon’s ant a sufficient metaphor to explain expert-human-autonomy teaming in safety-critical, time-critical domains, for example?  Indeed, what knowledge and capabilities define expert behavior?    This presentation will then discuss how to model these important dynamics in a manner sufficient to explore whether ‘work-as-envisioned’ will be successful, and what it will entail.  These models extend to identifying the impact of important teamwork behaviors arising from authority-responsibility mismatches and the need for communication and coordination.  The presentation will end with some preliminary musings based on computational modeling in a couple domains – rather than viewing workload as the limiting factor, should we instead be looking at information load?

AMY R. PRITCHETT is a professor and head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. Previously, Dr. Pritchett was on the faculty of the Schools of Aerospace Engineering and of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1997 to 2017, and she also served via an IPA as the Director of NASA’s Aviation Safety Program in 2008 and 2009.  Her research focuses on the intersection of technology, expert human performance and aerospace operations, with a particular focus on designing to support safety.  She has received the AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award, the RTCA William Jackson Award and, as a member of the Executive Committee of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, the 2008 Collier Trophy.  She earned her Sc.D., S.M. and S.B. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She recently chaired the National Research council Committee examining the use of leaded gasoline in general aviation aircraft, previously chaired the committee examining FAA Air Traffic Controller Staffing Levels, and recently served as a member on other NRC committees reviewing the FAA Certification Research Plan, Methods for Assessing the Safety of UAS Operations in the NAS, and NASA’s astronaut corps.   She also services as a technical consultant on aircraft accident litigation.  She is a fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Category: Seminars