ATC Gets Psyched for Testing

Paul Misiuda

Engineering Psychologist, Signatures and Soldier Performance Division, Warfighter Directorate

Misiuda photographs a target scene
while a Soldier identifies the target
down range.

Engineering Psychologists work one-on-one with military personnel.

Studying how those in the field interact with technology improves both man and machine.

The warfighter is at the heart of the mission at Aberdeen Test Center. “Excellence in testing” declares this philosophy, and every round fired here is in support of the military personnel who, in turn, support our country. of the Signatures and Soldier Performance Division, are two personnel for whom the warfighter is core to their daily mission.

Misiuda and Williams are unique in that they are the only two Engineering Psychologists at ATC. They study the relationship between humans and machines to improve the performance of both. Their duties are similar: designing experiments for human-in-the-loop assessments (evaluating human and equipment interaction); overseeing the handling of human subjects during test efforts; and planning efforts that rely on the psychophysics of humans to assess performance. The latter is particularly important, as it gauges the psychological response of military personnel to environmental stimuli, such as seeing a target through a rifle optic.

Although Misiuda and Williams share similar duties and work in the same division, they reside in separate branches and have objectives specific to their skill sets.

Within the Human Factors and Soldier Performance branch, Williams focuses on aspects true to her group’s title: specifically, the human factors engineering integral to fielding a new system, be it clothing, body armor, or combat vehicle, along with the overall performance of military personnel while using or wearing equipment under test. This includes analyzing the impact that a new protective system has on an individual’s physical performance, the fields of view and fire for new equipment, and overall safety. Equally important to her position is collecting test participants’ opinions about the systems under test by using targeted questionnaires or electronic surveys, one-on-one interviews, or group after-action discussions. Williams’ recent work with PEO-Soldier and their Soldier Protective System encompassed all of these tasks and skills as she helped to test a new full-body armor protection system.

In the Signatures and Sensors branch, Misiuda undertakes signature and sensor studies using military personnel to assess performance. His recent work includes the Soldier Enhancement Program - Ghillie Phase II, which requires observers to detect individuals wearing variations of concealment kits within natural outdoor terrain. Another example of Misiuda’s recent work is the Magnification Study for the Product Manager Crew Served Weapons. The Magnification Study was designed to have Soldier-observers to identify vehicle and squad-sized targets at specific distances to determine the magnification required to identify custom targets for successful engagement by crew served weapons.

While their branches may be separate and their duties varied, Misiuda and Williams both specialize in working with military personnel to produce realistic and meaningful military testing scenarios. Whether that testing is on a new protective system or on a concealment kit, the Engineering Psychologists at ATC keep the warfighter central to their testing.