Industrial Engineering

Research Laboratories

Advanced Technology Systems Laboratory (ATSL)

The mission of ATSL is to pursue cutting-edge research in human-machine systems as it applies to variety of domains such as quality and process control systems, aircraft maintenance, hybrid inspection systems and information and learning systems.

Brochure (PDF File)



Dr. Anand K. Gramopadhye


Use of Advanced Technology to Support Inspection Training in the General Aviation Industry (Sponsor: FAA)

In order for the FAA to provide the public with continuing safe, reliable air transportation, it is important to have a sound aircraft inspection and maintenance system, for both general as well as commercial aviation. This inspection / maintenance system is complex with many interrelated human and machine components. Recognizing the importance of the human, the FAA has pursued human factors research. In the maintenance arena this research has focused on the aircraft inspector and the aircraft maintenance technician (AMT). Since it is difficult to eliminate errors altogether, continuing emphasis must be placed on developing interventions to make the inspection/maintenance system more reliable and/or more error-tolerant. Training has been identified as the primary intervention strategy for improving the quality and reliability of aircraft inspection and for reducing errors. In light of this finding, this research will demonstrate how advanced technology can be used for inspection training and for reducing inspector errors within the general aviation industry. It will extend earlier work on computer-based inspection training for the commercial aviation system, applying it as an inspection training system for the general aviation industry. Specifically designed for training aircraft maintenance technicians in inspection skills, the tool will use a multi-media presentational approach with interaction opportunities between the user and the computer. It is anticipated that the use of this tool will systematizes and standardize the inspection training process in the general aviation industry. More Information

Integrating Asynchronous Technology and Virtual Reality To Support Education in Aircraft Maintenance Technology (Sponsor: NSF)

In the changing educational environment, Greenville Technical College in collaboration with Clemson University proposes to develop and implement an interactive virtual reality (VR) model of the aircraft inspection maintenance process for asynchronous delivery. This model will emphasize the curriculum development and workplace preparedness needed by modern aircraft maintenance technology for local, state and national audiences.

The primary objectives of this research are: (1) curriculum enhancement To develop an interactive virtual reality simulation model of the aircraft inspection and maintenance process, delivered and implemented asynchronously for aircraft maintenance technology courses, emphasizing workplace preparedness and (2) assessment To field test the effectiveness of VR as a pedagogical tool in a two-year aircraft maintenance technology associate degree program. Supporting these are the following secondary objectives: (1) teacher enhancement To provide regional high school teachers with opportunities to use VR as a pedagogical tool and increased awareness of aircraft maintenance careers, (2) integration of education and industry -- To promote a seamless transition from learning to workplace, and (3) dissemination and recruitment To disseminate project deliverables nationally and increase awareness of careers in aircraft maintenance technology among high school and under-represented students.

This innovative approach is the first effort to extend tested VR technology to the aircraft maintenance technology curriculum in a two-year college. Existing approaches have not been able to mimic accurately the complexity of the aircraft maintenance process, reporting limited transfer capabilities and student preparedness for the workplace. The successful completion of this effort will fill a state and national need for well-prepared students entering the aircraft maintenance industry and will obtain a better understanding of the use of VR as a pedagogical tool. In addition, the results have the potential to impact a wide range of SME&T areas.
More Information

Development of Automated System of Self-Instruction for Specialized Training: An Interactive Simulator for Automated Inspection Tasks (Sponsor: FAA)

Imagine an interactive software that develops a person's ability to inspect? Clemson University funded by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in collaboration with Delta Air Lines and Lockheed Martin Aircraft Center has developed a computer-based multimedia training (CBT) system to do just that. This CBT draws on our inspector's knowledge and skill to hone other inspectors' technique training, resulting in more effective inspections, which will then improve aircraft maintenance safety and reliability.

The Automated System of Self-paced Instruction for Specialized Training (ASSIST) software consists of two parts: a general module to provide potential inspectors with general information such as the role of an inspector, factors affecting inspection, safety and inspection procedures; and a task simulation module that allows the "inspector" (trainee) to conduct a simulated inspection of an aft cargo compartment. The simulated inspection even includes simulated ambient noise such as rivet guns, hangar door horns and other sounds found in a hangar where inspector may be working. During the simulation, the trainee visually searches for and classifies any defects and writes up a computer generated non-routine card. He or she is provided with immediate feedback on his or her performance.

Using Virtual Reality to Improve Inspection Quality (Sponsor: NASA)

The aircraft maintenance industry is a complex system consisting of several interrelated human and machine components. The linchpin of this system, however, is the human. Recognizing this, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has pursued human factors related research. In the maintenance arena the research has focused on the aircraft inspection process and the aircraft inspector. Training has been identified as the primary intervention strategy to improve the quality and reliability of aircraft inspection. One of the most viable approaches for delivering training given the many constraints and requirements imposed by the aircraft maintenance environment is computer-based training. Most of the work in the application of advanced computer technology to aircraft inspection training has focused on developing low fidelity simulators for running controlled studies in a laboratory environment. Research efforts need to be extended in order to take full advantage of today's computer technology. However, advanced technology has found limited application for inspection training in the aircraft maintenance environment. Presently, most of the applications of computer technology to training have been restricted to the defense/aviation industry for complex diagnostic tasks. The message is clear: we need more examples of the application of advanced technology to training for aircraft inspection tasks that draw upon the principles of training which we already know will work. In response to this need a university/ industry collaborative research effort developed a virtual reality based aircraft inspection simulator. The Virtual Reality (VR) inspection simulator is a collaborative effort of the Virtual Reality Eye Tracking (VRET) Laboratory and Advanced Technology Systems Laboratory (ATSL), Department of Industrial Engineering, Clemson University.

A Hybrid Solution to the Human-Machine Inspection Systems Design Problem (Sponsor: NSF)

The use of 100% inspection using automated systems has seen more frequent application than traditional sampling inspection using human inspectors. Nevertheless, humans still outperform machines in most examination type of inspection tasks. Thus, designers of inspection systems need guidelines on human/machine function allocation to ensure inspection is performed effectively. In response to this need, a computer simulator was developed in order to study function allocation issues in context of a visual inspection Printed Circuit Board (PCB) task. The system can support controlled studies on a printed circuit board inspection task in either human, automated, or hybrid mode. The simulator can operate in three separate modes:

(1) Human inspection mode: In the human inspection mode, the computer presents the human with a series of PCB images. As each image is displayed, subjects visually search for faults. Once searching is completed, the subjects classify the image based on the severity of the fault(s). Once the image is classified, the inspector can view the next image. The system is designed to operate in two separate modes: with immediate feedback, as in training, and without feedback, as in practice.
( 2) Computer inspection mode: In the purely automated inspection mode, the operation of the computer parallels that of the human system with the exception that there is no feedback provided. The role of the human is supervisory in nature.
(3) Hybrid inspection mode: In the hybrid inspection mode, both the search and decision-making functions are designed so that the functions can be performed cooperatively. The alternatives with parallel human and machine activities enable dynamic allocation of search and decision-making functions.

Selected Publications

Vora, J., Gramopadhye, A. K., Duchowski, A., Melloy, B. and Kanki, B. Using Virtual Reality for Aircraft Inspection Training: Presence and Comparison Studies, Applied Ergonomics, Vol. 39, No. 6, 559 – 570, 2002.

Duchowski, A., Medlin, E., Cournia, N., Murphy, H., Gramopadhye, A. K., Nair, S. Vora, J. and Melloy, B. "3D Eye Movement Analysis", Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers Vol. 34, No. 4., 573-591, November 2002.

Chabukswar, S., Gramopadhye, A. K., Melloy B., and Grimes, L. Use of Aiding and Feedback in Improving Visual Search Performance for an Inspection Task, Human factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, Vol. 13. No. 2, 115-136, 2003.

Jiang, X., Gramopadhye, A. K., Melloy, B. Theoretical Issues in the Design of Human Machine Systems Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, Vol. 4. 2003.

Jiang, X., Gramopadhye, A. K., Grimes, L. Evaluation of Best System Performance: Human, Automated and Hybrid Inspection Systems. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, Spring 2003, Vol. 13, No. 2. 137-151.


Maintained by:
Industrial Engineering Department, College of Engineering and Science
110 Freeman Hall, Clemson, S.C. 29634 | IE Webmaster | (864) 656-4716