ATLAS Lab Research Areas

The ATLAS Lab was founded in 2018 by Dr. Meredith Carroll to study and develop solutions to optimize human performance, cognition, and learning in aviation systems and beyond.  Through systematic and applied research methods, the ATLAS Lab studies how humans process information; effectively team with machine and human counterparts; develop knowledge, skills and expertise; and the human factors which influence these processes in a range of complex systems.

 The ATLAS Lab also evaluates current technology solutions to make recommendations for streamlining human performance and designs unique training and education tools grounded in human factors, and cognition and learning theory.  The ATLAS Lab conducts research in a range of domains both within and outside of aviation, including commercial, military and general aviation; unmanned aircraft systems (UAS); urban/advanced air mobility (U/AAM), aviation maintenance; air traffic control; a range of military operations; and complex systems, in general.


Cognition and Decision-making

The ATLAS lab studies how individuals make decisions under stress and uncertainty.  This includes utilizing physiological measures to assess stress and workload, in hand with granular process-level measures of decision making and performance.  It has also resulted in development of a model of how pilots make decisions with conflicting information. Example projects include:

  • Pilot Response to Conflicting Information: Ongoing effort to analyze of data from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-funded research effort to examine, from a theoretical and empirical perspective, how pilots respond to information conflicts on the flight deck. The project included review of literature and safety/accident reports, survey and interview of general aviation and air transport pilots, and a simulation study with B737 pilots.



Human Machine Teaming

The ATLAS Lab studies the human-machine teaming context from multiple angles including how to design complex systems to facilitate the effective communication between the machine and human, eliciting trust by the human in it’s machine counterpart, and the human-machine team being able to achieve desired and effective performance.  Example projects include:

  • Multilevel Framework of Trust Dynamics in Human-Agent Teams (HATs) - Currently funded by the Air Fore Office of Scientific Research's Trust and Influence program, in collaboration with Florida Tech's Institute for Culture, Collaboration, and Management (ICCM), this effort is developing a Multilevel Framework of Trust Dynamics in Human-Agent Teams (HATs) and associated unobtrusive measures of trust. The first year of the effort focuses on a review of recent literature in the field and conceptualization of the theoretical framework that will be validated in later experimentation, including experiments designed to validate aspects of the model such as the influence of different types of trust violations and repair strategies in teams, and how various compilational patterns of these events across teammates impacts trust.  
  • Examination of Human-Agent Team Dynamics and Trust in a Simulated Multi-UAV Mission: Identifying Areas for Competency-Based Training - Previsouly funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), this effort conducted an experiment examining the impact of various Levels of Automation, implemented in a Multi-UAV simulator, on a human teammate's trust in an agent teammate, performance, stress and workload.  

  • Multi-Unmanned Aircraft System (UAV) Simulator for Teaming Research and Evaluation of Autonomous Missions (Multi-UAV S.T.R.E.A.M.) – A collaborative effort with the AFRL's Gaming Research Integration for Learning Laboratory (GRILL) that resulted in development of a virtual environment that allows the study of human-machine teaming elements such as team composition, team dynamics, trust in autonomous decision making, trust repair strategies, levels of autonomy, and multi-UAV management.
  • Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Heads-up Displays (HUDs) for Emergency and Commercial Operations– A project aimed to support Part 107 UAS operations, particularly for emergency operations, through heads-up displays (HUDs). The first effort consisted of a simulation-based search and rescue mission to assess operator situation awareness, workload, and performance. The second effort assessed HUDs in live settings utilizing Epson Moverio augmented reality glasses with undergradaute students and local first responders to determine the efficacy of these tools in the field.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity – An Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded project to examine individual awareness of and response to Internet-of-Things (IoT) cybersecurity threats.  This effort was a collaboration with Florida Tech’s IoT Privacy and Security Lab to evaluate IoT user knowledge, perceptions, experiences and behaviors related to the privacy of personal information on IoT devices.  Interventions for influencing human behaviors were developed and their effectiveness was validated in an experiment with over 100 participants.

  • Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Human Factors - Effort examining the human factors considerations for UAM operations. Includes collaborative effort with Florida Tech’s Flight Test Engineering department who is currently funded through the FAA to examine operator information needs during UAM flight operations with a Vertical Take-off/Landing (V-TOL) aircraft.  Also includes experimentation examining pilot decision making in a UAM context.



Learning and Expertise Development

The ATLAS Lab examines learner motivation and engagement, including development of a framework of individual, system and task/environmental factors which influence how likely a learner it to become engaged in a learning context.  We have developed best practice guidelines for increasing learner engagement in the modern education environment, including how to effectively utilize virtual training tools.  We also conduct research in the areas of training system design and evaluation, including adaptive training, training effectiveness evaluation, return on training investment, and training fidelity analysis.  Example projects include:

  • Educational Approaches and Curriculum to Engage and Educate a More Diverse Cybersecurity Workforce - Currently funded by ONR, in collaboration with Florida Tech's IoT Privacy and Security Lab, this effort is designing, implementing and empirically evaluating an introductory cybersecurity training course with impactful STEM educational experiences and instructional strategies shown efficacious for cybersecurity education and effective in targeting underrepresented minorities.  The outcome of this effort will be educational approaches and a pilot-program curriculum for an introductory-level cybersecurity course, empirically validated to increase learning outcomes, learner engagement, self-efficacy, interest and intent to pursue a career in cybersecurity, for underrepresented minorities.  We are currently collaborating with Coaco High School's Junior ROTC program for design and evaluation of the program.

  • Adaptive Training.  Two adaptive training efforts are currently being performance in which the ATLAS lab is assisting in design and implementation with experimentation to evalute adaptive trainign tools and techniques.  One effort is a collaboration with the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWC TSD) to evaluate the effectiveness of various adaptive approaches for flash card training.  Another effort is a collaboration with Boston Fusion Corporation (BFC) to develop and evaluate data analytic approaches for quantifying and qualifying pilot performance and learning in simulation scenarios to facilitate automatic adaptive training interventions.
  • Learner Engagement Assessment Tools - Research and development effort previously funded by AFRL to design and empirically evaluate training and assessment tools and techniques to increase learner engagement for UAS training, maintenance training, and higher education.



Human Performance and Individual Differences

The ATLAS Lab studies human performance under stress and resilience to stress, including the utilization of behavioral and physiological assessment of cognitive/perceptual skills and cognitive/affective state.  We also study the impact that a range of individual difference factors have on cognition, learning and performance, including cognitive ability, personality, motivation, self-efficacy, among others.

  • Theoretical Model Develop of Learner Engagement - Previously funded by AFRL, this research effort resulted in identification and empirical validation of framework of individual difference factors which influence learner engagement.
  • Indicators of Student Pilot Success - Archival study to examine factors which predict success in collegiate aviation program. Future efforts will conduct a longitudinal study to examine the role that personality traits and other individual difference variables play in pilot selection, performance, and success.