Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Air base expanding research role

New Human Factors facility ...

"The largest construction project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base since World War II -- an undertaking that will make the base the military's dominant center for human-performance research -- is about to begin.

A ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled Monday for the 660,000-square-foot complex, which is expected to be completed by 2011. Excavation will begin in August.

The complex will be home to military research on such factors as how humans interact with aircraft, respond to war-fighting conditions, handle the stream of data and stimuli in the cockpit and are affected by high altitudes and gravitational pull.

Among other things, the four-building complex will house the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, which will train flight surgeons for the Air Force and U.S. allies around the world. Other research will include protecting soldiers from chemical and biological threats.

The complex will house cockpit simulators, an altitude chamber and a centrifuge.

"This will make Wright-Patterson for human-performance research the dominant center in the Department of Defense," said Joe Sciabica, executive director of the Air Force Research Lab, which is located at the base.

The new complex stems from a base realignment approved by Congress in 2005.

The 19,500-person government work force at Wright-Patterson is expected to swell by at least 1,000 when the complex is filled with aerospace-medicine scientists and researchers from Air Force installations in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida.

"This move will make the Dayton area a magnet for biomedical research funding and personnel that traditionally have gone to big universities," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute in Virginia. "More and more of the Air Force research on human factors focuses on pharmaceutical and behavioral research rather than simply building machines."    (Continued via The Columbus Dispatch)    [Usability Resources]

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