I was born on June 22, 1965 in Milford, MA, and grew up in the neighboring town of Medway, MA, where I attended high school at the Medway Jr.-Sr. High School.
I then went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, majoring in electrical engineering. I was granted an Air Force ROTC scholarship halfway through my first semester there. During the summers I worked for the Raytheon Company (various locations) as an engineer, with wide ranging duties including testing and design. I graduated in 1987 (with Distinction), and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force (USAF).
While waiting to go on active duty, I was hired as a GS-7 at Hanscom AFB, MA. There I worked on the Strategic Defense Initiative Battle Management, Command, Control, and Communications Experimental Version (SDI BMC3 EV). This was one of several SDI contracts supported by the Air Force; this particular program would provide an architecture and design for the BMC3 portion of the “Star Wars” program. My major duty was participation in the source selection, which chose the primary contractor for the program.
I was given an assignment over the summer of 1987, which was to be Combat Communications Officer with the 5th MOB at Robins AFB, GA. However, in November 1987 I received a letter which asked me if I wanted to attend pilot training instead – an offer that I barely hesitated to accept. I went on active duty on April 1, 1988.
I first attended a flight screening program at Hondo, TX, just outside of San Antonio, since I had no previous flight experience. After passing this program I was sent to Williams AFB, just outside of Phoenix, for UPT Class 89-09. The training there consisted of about a month of academics, almost 6 months of T-37 training (under the tutelage of Capt. Vic Mauk), and almost 6 months of T-38 training. I was then assigned to fly the C-141B with the 18th Military Airlift Squadron, 438th Military Airlift Wing, 21st Air Force, at McGuire AFB, NJ.
After completing survival training at Fairchild AFB, WA water survival training at Homestead AFB, FL, and initial training at Altus AFB, OK, I arrived at McGuire in late November 1989. I completed my initial local training and was qualified as a copilot on December 23, 1989. Since this was also the day that the U.S. military invaded Panama, my first mission was the next evening (Christmas Eve) to Panama. This began my involvement in a string of special missions: Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Provide Hope (relief for Soviet Bloc countries), Provide Promise (relief for the former Yugoslavia), and Restore Hope (Somalia – I actually was the aircraft commander on the first aircraft to land there after it was secured by the U.S. Marines). I was upgraded to Aircraft Commander, then Instructor, and then finally Flight Examiner Aircraft Commander. I was also very briefly the Chief of Squadron Standardization, as what was now being called the 18th Airlift Squadron closed. I then joined the 30th Airlift Squadron.
While at McGuire I had numerous additional duties. My first was as “One Stop” officer, where I prepared all documents for the outgoing aircrews and provided them to them as they left and as they returned. I was then named (in succession): pilot scheduler, mission control officer, and then moved to the wing level as Wing Airlift Director. In this latter function, I managed all wing scheduling of higher headquarters taskings, including aircraft and aircrew. After returning to the squadron for a brief time to perform squadron standardization duties, I returned to the wing as mission planner and special project officer. In this capacity I planned overseas and domestic missions, including crew and aircraft configuration requirements, diplomatic clearances, and air traffic requirements. I also overhauled the wing’s “evacuation plan” that repositioned aircraft in the case of a natural disaster at McGuire. Additionally, I programmed a special database tool to allow the wing commander and staff to monitor events during exercises and special operations.
I left McGuire, and the Air Force, in June 1996, intending to head back to school and get my Master’s degree and eventually my Ph.D. I took some time off, working part time for a small Boston credit card firm doing network support. I was accepted for the spring semester at M.I.T., and then hired as a research assistant by Dr. Thomas Sheridan, to work under a NASA grant researching air traffic control issues.
After refreshing and advancing my knowledge of calculus, dynamics, and controls, I concentrated in human-machine systems. This meant taking courses such as “Human Supervisory Control of Automated Systems” and “Decision Aiding and Alerting Systems”. I also took courses in air traffic management and airport design.
The research was focused on issues in air traffic control under a (then) new concept called “free flight,” in which aircraft will be much less restricted in the routes that they fly. The research was to involve the “Virtual Associative Network” (VAN), which was developed by Dr. Yan Yufik. I took the opportunity to educate myself about cognitive science, the VAN, and cognitive grouping. I created an air traffic control simulation in C++, and, as input to the VAN modeling software, we utilized an eye tracking system. We used novice subjects (i.e. students) to test the methodology. The results ended up being my Master’s thesis.
I graduated from M. I. T. with an S.M. in Aeronautics and Astronautics in the spring of 1999 and headed to the Georgia Institute of Technology. My concentration was again in human-machine systems, with a minor in cognitive science. There I took a variety of courses in human factors, including courses in cognitive science, engineering, human-machine systems modeling, decision making, simulation, and aviation navigation systems.
I was hired as a research assistant to work under another NASA grant, this time to work on “paired approaches,” a concept to implement instrument approaches to closely spaced parallel runways. In the first phase I completed a deterministic analysis of the dynamics of two aircraft on approach. This outlined the space in which the procedure can be accomplished and identified key variables. The next phase of the research examined human factors aspects of the procedure. After modifying the dynamics and displays of Georgia Tech’s reconfigurable flight simulator, I conducted an experiment using airline pilots, modifying the amount and type of information available to them.
A job became available at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, so I left Georgia Tech in September 2002 to work while I completed my Ph.D. I began working under Dr. Julie Jacko in the Spring of 2003 and completed my degree requirements in May 2004. I officially graduated in July 2004 with a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering and a certificate in cognitive science.
At NASA, I mainly worked on the Multi-center Traffic Management Advisor (McTMA), an air traffic control decision support tool used to meter enroute aircraft. My primary responsibility was the design and implementation of the distributed scheduler, which enabled each enroute control center to schedule aircraft in their center while meeting restrictions coming from multiple sources of congestion in multiple other centers. I was also a key member of the field test team, which deployed, tested, and evaluated the system in four enroute control centers over a period of two years. Additionally, I worked on the automated airspace concept, specifically on how to integrate “meet-time” scheduling constraints with automated separation assurance advisories created by an automated system.
I am currently an Associate Professor and the Associate Head in the School of Industrial Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, specializing in Human Factors. I also am an Associate Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics (by courtesy) and a member of the leadership team with the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering. I arrived here at Purdue in August 2005, and was promoted with tenure in August 2011.