Managing interruptions

Interruptions are a way of life. They’re typically not life-threatening, but for military personnel monitoring unmanned aerial drones, interruptions could have deadly consequences.


That’s why S&T researchers are studying the impact of interruptions on such “human-in-the-loop systems.” Susan Murray, professor of engineering management and systems engineering, and Muhammet Gulum, a Ph.D. student in engineering management, set up a work station in S&T’s Engineering Management Building to study how people react to interruptions. The subjects perform monitoring tasks on a computer but are also interrupted periodically to perform other tasks — each designed to engage motor skills, cognitive ability or visual ability.
“We’re looking at different types of interruptions to see how people respond,” Murray says. “We’re looking at the impact on time and accuracy. The type of interruption can make a difference.”
The results of this research — funded through a grant from the U.S. Army Research Lab through the Leonard Wood Institute — will be used by the military when designing new monitoring systems.

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