2021 Undergraduates Makayla Simpson and Kaylee Dillard are Research Conference Winners

Author: Karyssa Pratt
Event Date: May 31, 2021
"The Role of Worker Cognitive Biases in Electrical Safety Performance: an fNIRS Study in a Mixed-Reality Environment."

CEM and Dr Sogand Hasanzadeh are honored to share good news that undergraduate students Makayla Simpson and Kaylee Dillard were named a top three presenter at the 2021 Spring Undergraduate Research Conference Symposium for their research titled, "The Role of Worker Cognitive Biases in Electrical Safety Performance: an fNIRS Study in a Mixed-Reality Environment." Among more than 300 presentations, they were placed 2nd in the College of Engineering. 

This event highlights the scholarly work and creative endeavors undergraduate students have been engaged in through presentations. Form more information about these presentations please view the links below:

An Abstract of The Research by Dr Sogand Hasanzadeh:

Many efforts have been made to reduce the number of injuries occurring in the electrical construction industry, but this sector experiences one of the highest fatality rates among all sectors. The construction industry has implemented safety training, standards, and personal protective equipment to lower the amount of injuries but it is not enough. The purpose of our research is to examine the risk-taking behavior of line workers and how it affects their safety performance, decision dynamics, and productivity on the job. Utilizing mixed-reality combined with wearable sensors , including, location-tracking sensors, wireless neuropsychological and cognitive brain monitoring (fNIRS), eye-tracker, photoplethysmography (PPG) and galvanic skin response (GSR); will be used to track the participants motions, positions, musculoskeletal data, and psychological responses. The use of mixed reality will make the experience as real as possible making the participant have naturalistic behaviors. Participants are exposed to a virtual scenario in which they must perform a series of tasks involving electrical power lines. Our focus is to determine whether workers compensate for the levels of safety and by behaving in a riskier fashion and identify if demographic and psychographic factors may affect the likelihood to have at-risk behaviors. Due to the amount of personal equipment provided, workers may alter their behavior and over-rely on the safety measures employed, which could therefore result in injury or death. Once the tasks are completed, all data from the wearable sensors and fNIRS will be compiled and analyzed. Following our study, we may find that safety managers may consider implementing a more in-depth training for workers and provide them with a better understanding of the risks involved with working on power and utility lines.

More Perspective From Dr Sogand Hasanzadeh:

From the perspective of Dr Sogand, some important factors to include and consider these students are involved in an Interdisciplinary research. She is behaving as her undergraduate research assistant in a similar way she does with the graduate students. She teaches them everything, invites them to all the group meetings, meetings with companies, or any training they have. Each student is given responsibility including things like from doing a literature review to analysis. Do Sogand knew undergraduate students Makayla and Kaylee were capable of doing all these tasks so she challenged them a lot, and provided them all opportunities to learn, grow, and flourish. Their performances even exceed her expectations!

These CEM undergrads went outside of their comfort zones to learn about how the technologies are set to revolutionize our construction industry. These undergraduate students' vision of having an impact on our industry, and they wanted to learn and explore opportunities and better prepare themselves for the future of the construction industry. It seems that previously there were minimal opportunities for CEM undergrad research. Makayla and Kaylee heard that Dr. Sogand was known for engaging with undergrads in my research during my interview talk/meeting. They themselves contacted her as they heard she accepted Purdue's offer and expressed their interest in doing research with her. They are very self-driven students, and she really enjoyed working with them. 

Makayla and Kaylee both received OUR scholarship from Purdue for working on this research project. This might be the first time that our CEM undergrads competed with all other students at the Purdue level in research activities, and received such a great award. This is an accomplishment we are all proud of. This team has also worked on another project in Dr Sogand’s research group. That project is a close collaboration with Clark Construction. Makayla/Kaylee's experience and this award will open the door for more opportunities for our undergrads, while will motivate others to challenge themselves and engage in research activities. She is very much looking forward to engaging more undergraduate students in my research activities and better prepare them for all changes happening to our construction industry. She will have three more undergraduate students this year who will help with two projects (NSF and DOT)

The key components of this research these students conducted and how Dr. Sogand was involved with this project, goes like this. Makayla and Kayle were involved from the very first steps of the project, from the planning to experimental design to data collection and part of data analysis. The research is very interdisciplinary and is centered at the nexus of occupational safety, cognitive psychology, applied behavioral science, and advanced computation, aiming at building a safer construction workforce for more than seven million workers employed in the U.S. construction industry. The students learn about planning the research, using/calibrating wearable technologies, and learning/working with virtual and mixed reality equipment. This study challenges the traditional safety paradigm by addressing fundamental questions regarding the latent side effect of safety interventions and technological advances on worker decision dynamics at job sites.

Congratulations again to Dr Sogand Hasanzadeh, and her research conference winners undergraduate '21 students Kaylee Dillard and Makayla Simpson.



Related Link: https://youtu.be/tzE54mZUvHU