Mica R. Endsley

Mica R. Endsley

President, SA Technologies
MS IE 1985

For her revolutionary work in the field of human situation awareness, redefining how organizations observe, orient, decide and take action, in order to improve awareness and limit potential risks.

Mica Endsley came to Purdue in the middle of her educational quest. She already had earned her bachelor’s degree and would go on to receive her doctorate. Working as a teaching assistant for Professor James Barany (1930-2011), who was associate head of Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering, was just what she needed at that point in her life.

“Between organizing lecture notes, developing exams and lab materials, and overseeing student projects, I am sure I learned more from this experience than from all of my formal coursework put together,” Endsley said.

She is now the founder and president of SA Technologies, a cognitive engineering firm specializing in the development of operator interfaces for advanced systems, including the next generation of systems for military, aviation, air traffic control, driving, healthcare and power grid operations. Endsley is considered a pioneer in human situation awareness (SA), developing the leading cognitive theory and model, through which she has made significant contributions in the design, development and evaluation of systems to support human SA and decision making. Her SA-focused research includes future cockpits, command and control, air traffic management systems, and information dominance in distributed teams in battlefield scenarios. Recently, she extended her SA model to create computational models for decision support, combat information attacks, and develop augmented reality displays.

Among Endsley’s proudest professional accomplishments is her two-year stint as the chief scientist for the United States Air Force.

“Uniquely, I was the first woman to serve as chief scientist and the first with a background in industrial engineering and human factors. While I was there, I made numerous changes that helped the Air Force to better understand what was happening in the research arena and how to better harness new technologies for maintaining international competitiveness.”

Endsley has co-authored two books, written more than 200 scientific articles, and developed training programs for enhancing SA among individuals and teams. She is past president and a fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, where she founded the Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making Technical Group, previously served on the executive council, and earned the Jack Kraft Innovator Award. In addition, she is the founder and former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making and serves on the editorial board of three major journals. In 2013, she received the Outstanding Industrial Engineer Award from Purdue.

Looking back on her master’s program at Purdue, Endsley said it was her first foray into research, piquing her interest and preparing her for future work in her field. She also appreciated the flexibility to take multi-disciplinary coursework that “created a very broad understanding of the many issues that come into play in designing new technology and getting that technology developed in organizations.”

She advises current undergraduates to identify problems and seek new solutions to them.

“Have confidence in yourself and what you have to contribute,” Endsley said. “The world needs original thinkers. While that may not be the easiest path, it pays off in the long run.”

Career Highlights

2020-present Board of Directors, Charles River Analytics
2015-present President, SA Technologies – Mesa, AZ
2013-2015 Chief Scientist, U.S. Air Force
1996-1997 Visiting Associate Professor, Aeronautics and Astronautics,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1995-1997 Associate Professor, Industrial Engineering, Texas Tech University
1990-1995 Assistant Professor, Industrial Engineering, Texas Tech University
1989-1990 Engineering Specialist, Northrop Corporation
1987-1989 Senior Engineer, Northrop Corporation
1986-1987 Engineer II, Northrop Corporation
1985-1986 Engineer, Northrop Corporation


1982 Industrial Engineering, Texas Tech University
1985 MS Industrial Engineering, Purdue University
1990 PhD Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California