Course Information Suite

Programs of Study: Undergrad

Human Factors

Acting Head of the Department: Alex Kirlik
Graduate Program Coordinator: Peter Vlach
1 Airport Road, MC-394
Savoy, IL  61874
(217) 244-8607

Major: Human Factors
Degrees offered: M.S.

Graduate Degree Programs

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has established a Master of Science Program in Human Factors. This program involves a broad and diverse group of faculty and students based in academic units including the Institute of Aviation's Human Factors Division, the Departments of Psychology, Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Computer Science, and the Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction Group at the Beckman Institute. The program focuses on a wide variety of cognitive human factors issues within both aviation and non-aviation systems.


This program is currently not accepting applications.

Completed application files for all prospective students are first evaluated by a screening committee composed of faculty members within the Human Factors Division. Our criteria for admission include the quality of your undergraduate work, your undergraduate grade-point average for the last 60 completed hours of undergraduate work, test scores on Graduate Record Examinations (verbal and quantitative tests are required), quality of recommendations contained in three required letters of reference, your background in mathematics and research, your personal statement of goals and interests, your program of undergraduate studies and your performance in special parts of that program (e.g., in particularly demanding courses, in independent work, etc.). Please visit our website for more details.

Degree Requirements

*For additional details and requirements refer to the department's graduate program requirements and the Graduate College Handbook.

Master of Science

Required Courses: Required Hours
PSYC 406, 407, 456 and 527 16
AVI 455 and 597HF 8
AVI 497ST or 597ST 3-4
Thesis Hours Required–AVI 599 (min/max applied toward degree): 4-9
Total Hours 36
Minimum 500-level Hours Required Overall:
Other Requirements:*  
Minimum GPA: 3.0

The Institute of Aviation offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science degree. This degree is awarded as a terminal degree to candidates who have satisfactorily completed 36 graduate hours of graduate work in this area and who have completed a thesis.

Faculty Research Interests

Human factors research at the University of Illinois covers a wide range of topics and projects, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the human factors programs and the diverse and complementary skills and areas of expertise of the faculty. Please visit our website for more details.

Facilities and Resources

The Human Factors Division has, or shares, two campus sites for research, at Willard Airport and at the Beckman Institute.

Applied Cognitive Science Laboratory, Beckman Institute (Room 4035)
The Applied Cognitive Science Lab in the Beckman Institute is equipped with eight state-of-the art networked computers for collecting high-resolution local and remote keystrokes, mouse movements, and click-stream data. The computers are also equipped with real-time protocol analysis programs that allow precise recording and analysis of audio and video data.

Desktop Driving Simulator, Beckman Institute
This desktop simulator is powered by Ace Simulation’s Asim Development software package. Five graphics channels, rapidly configurable to be front, side or rear screen, electronic dashboard and additional vehicle displays, complement the control, data gathering, and analysis computers to create an extremely versatile prototyping and research simulator testbed. A three-infrared-camera SmartEye tracking system, additional infrared and visible light driver-monitor cameras, and Matlab and SAS-enabled data analysis computers make this simulator an excellent location for research not requiring the full-vehicle capabilities of the DriveSafety simulator.

Fully-Immersive Automobile Driving Simulator, Beckman Institute
This eight-projected-surface, complete-vehicle automobile driving simulator is based on a DriveSafety HyperDrive/Vection software package powered by a PC cluster for real-time graphics visualization of researcher-created driving scenarios. Multi-modal driver performance and data gathering hardware and software have been added by staff to meet the needs of the proposed research. In addition to the two-channel road noise sound system, a bi-directional octophonic sound overlay has been integrated into the scenario software to allow for the testing of spatialized-sound signals. Additional visual channels have been incorporated into the base visual subsystem for cockpit display (head-up display and head-down display) of simulated in-vehicle information systems. Multiple independent-channel networking allows for autonomous graphics, control and data-gathering communication, while a time-stamp service software package automatically synchronizes data from instrumentation having diverse clocks and frame rates. A SmartEye Pro three-camera, world-referenced infrared eye tracking system from SmartEye AB and additional infrared and visible light cameras gather driver attention data in a non-intrusive manner. A 20 terabyte RAID-6 data vault and several multi-terabyte RAID-5 systems assure adequate storage capacity for all the collected data.

Interactive Cognition Laboratory, Beckman Institute (Room 2414)
This laboratory consists of a central group workspace and three access-controlled laboratory booths for experimentation with human participants. Equipment includes 2 Mac G4 computers with 17” flat panel monitors (one configured as a file server), 1 IMac computer, 4 Windows NT Computers, 2 with flat panel monitors, a high volume color Laserjet printer, a digital scanner, and an ASL 5000 eye tracker with associated computer server and two small video monitors. Two of the Windows computers are configured with Emerson, Inc “DeltaV” software providing simulations of both the automation and controlled systems of the UIUC Abbott power plant, for supporting studies of human-computer interaction, supervisory control, and display design for complex systems. Both Mac G4 computers are configured with the computational cognitive modeling architecture “ACT-R” and a flight simulation package “X-Plane,” containing moderate fidelity terrain and airport databases for the entire world, supporting closed-loop, cognitive modeling of piloting cognition and the evaluation of interface design concepts.

Monitored Rehab Systems, Beckman Institute
One of the Monitored Rehab Systems, MR Cube, will be used in the proposed studies. MR Cube (5 in x 6.5 in x 6.5 in; 7.5 lbs) provides the user with interactive video-based “games” via a sensor and computer combination that is attached to any strength training machine, and includes unique visual feedback through the video-based “games”. The “games” are specifically designed to stimulate the need for coordination, motor control, and proprioception by providing randomly generated visual and tonal cues for various tasks that need to be successfully completed for positive game scoring. The user must cognitively process what is required, translate it to muscle control to execute the activity, then process whether the movement or force production was correct, then constantly alter the output accordingly to be successful with the task. This constant feedback/feed forward loop of sensorimotor stimulation enhances brain-body communication and coordination that results in refined movement patterns and muscle control.

The visual and tonal stimuli of the MR Cube games force the development of positional joint awareness (proprioception) and require the ability to alternately (and randomly) generate concentric, eccentric, and/or isometric muscle contractions. They also provide the biofeedback necessary for the subtle correction and refinement of the movement patterns as needed. In addition, as the user progresses, the visual cueing of the games stimulates anticipation, thereby engaging the feed-forward mechanism of proprioceptive development and leading to improved reaction time. Because all of the training games can be adjusted for difficulty, users can benefit from increased challenges as they develop.

Perceptual and Cognitive Performance (PCP) Laboratory, Beckman Institute (Rooms 1634 & 1612)
The PCP lab includes a table-mounted EyeLink 1000 and multiple PCs for behavioral performance testing. Facilities are used to study topics related to visual search, attention, decision making, and expertise.

Virtual Reality Cave, Beckman Institute
The world's first room-sized immersive environment, this 3-meter, three-wall and a floor projection space has been in operation since 1995 and continues to be a valuable development space for data-visualization projects and as a stable human-subject research facility. Powered by a monolithic SGI graphics supercomputer, a pc cluster or a monolithic Windows/Intel/nVidia computer-in-a-box, researchers have available a space to develop new applications and human interface devices across a wide variety of computational and graphics platforms. Head and hand tracking is accomplished by in Intersense IS-900 ultrasonic/accelerometer system, biometric data gathering systems can be added to suit individual human-subject projects and applications can be developed in both C++ and Python programming languages.

Visual Flight Simulation Laboratory, Illinois Simulation Laboratory, Beckman Institute
This laboratory has a three-channel, computer-generated visual simulation capability provided by three computers with high-end graphics cards. The system is capable of projecting day, night, high and low visibility conditions. We are using the flight simulation program X-Plane which is capable of simulating a wide variety of aircraft and can provide terrain from all over the world. It is integrated with a Frasca 142 flight simulator and glass-cockpit instrument panel capable of projecting advanced display concepts. Eye movement monitoring equipment can record visual fixations across the instrument panel and outside scene. It can also be switched readily to a simple control system mounted to a laboratory chair, where it is used to test issues relating to head up displays and to navigation. The visual simulation capability is supported by a number of networked computers. In addition, three Electrohome projectors are used to project the computer-generated visual scenes onto a 3 wall, 135 degree screen.

Simulation Laboratory, Q4, Professional Pilot Division (Willard Airport)
This laboratory has six Frasca 141 Flight Training Devices (FTD) that represent generic single engine aircraft such as those flown at the Institute of Aviation. Two of these FTDs have fully digital data recording systems for recording continuous flight performance data. These devices have been used in several instrument flying studies (funded by both NASA and the FAA), investigating the incremental effectiveness of time flown in FTD towards the instrument rating. Also has two twin-engine Frasca 142s, one of which has been used in CRM research and a Frasca 242 turboprop trainer.

HFD owns and operates three PCATDs. The first study of PCATD effectiveness run at the Institute was interested in determining what could be trained efficiently in the PCATD as well as what transferred effectively to the aircraft. After this study, it was clear that the introduction of new instrument maneuvers provided better transfer to the aircraft than the review of previously learned maneuvers. As a result, it was possible to specify, more precisely, a training program with a set amount of time and set number of maneuvers to be performed in the PCATD. Since the exact amount of time to be spent using a PCATD that is most effective had not been determined, an Incremental Transfer design was proposed by the Institute and subsequently funded by a grant from NASA.

This study used instrument students from the AVI 130 and 140 instrument courses at the Institute. Four experimental groups were run at the time, each using the PCATD for incremental more time than the other. A control group receives training only in the aircraft. The Elite PCATD (and FAA approved PCATD) was designed to simulate the Piper Archer (PA-28-181). Follow-on work funded by the FAA further validated that instrument training could be effectively carried out in these devices.

The Elite v 7.0 Archer PCATD has realistic flight controls, full flight dynamics and a United States navigation database. In addition to these features, the Elite PCATD provides a great deal of flexibility when simulating typical emergencies that an instrument pilot might experience and has a user friendly interface making the instructor’s job of setting up a training session quite easy. Each PCATD is equipped with digital data collection for continuous and discrete performance variables.

Financial Aid

Financial assistance includes fellowships, research and teaching assistantships, and/or waivers of tuition and fees. All graduate students enrolled in good standing in the Master of Science Program of the Human Factors Division, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are eligible for financial support. However, support is not guaranteed and depends upon the availability of funds.