Psychology Professor Kim-Phuong Vu, associate director of CSULB’s Center for Human Factors and Advanced Aeronautics Technology (CHAAT), is trying to understand how humans deal with increasingly complex transportation automation.

One of her projects is a four-year NASA grant in collaboration with the NASA Ames Flight Deck Display Research Laboratory and the firm Rockwell Collins to study an aviation concept called Reduced Crew Operations.

“With the automation technology that’s been developed over the years, now we’re looking at whether it’s possible to reduce the crew to one pilot and have ground support—maybe an operator in a ground station who can provide assistance when needed,” and support multiple pilots at once, she explains. However, it’s essential that both pilots fully know what each other are doing and how to handle emergencies.

“It’s a really new groundbreaking area,” Vu says.

Students work in the CHAAT laboratory during the academic year and have come to NASA Ames Flight Deck Display Research Laboratory during the summer so well-prepared that NASA presented last year’s group with certificates of achievement.

“We brag in the human factors program that we have 100 percent placement rates for our students within six months of graduation,” adds Vu.