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Jan. 13, 2023

E270 - TRB's Recap Report is Driving us Wild

This week on the show, we talk about the Transportation Research Board 2022 Annual Report. We also answer some questions from the community about UX Research being overhyped as a field, human factors engineering career help, and gaining experience for Grad School.

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Welcome to Human Factors cast your weekly podcast for Human Factors Psychology and Design.



Two 70. That means there have been 269 at least episodes before this one. Episode 270. We're recording this live on January 12, 2023. This is human factors. Cast I'm your host, Nick Rome, joined today by Mr. Barry Kirby. Hello and good evening. Hello and good sleepy evening to you. We got a great show for you tonight. We're going to be talking about this report from the Transportation Research Board, their 2022 annual report. And later, we're going to be answering some questions from the community about UX research being over hyped as a field, human Factors engineering career help, and gaining experience for grad school. But first, we have some programming notes for you all. If you're not aware, we have just done we have completed, I guess, our Patreon refresh, updated some role titles, clarified some benefits, added some new things. So human factors. Cast Academy is new. And we also have something else coming soon. Human factors cast roundtable. You can basically pay to have yourself on your own podcast with myself and Barry for our patrons, even if you're not a Patreon patron, it's worth heading over there because we do post all of our stories for next week on the polls we put up there. Wow, that wasn't rehearsed at all. We put the polls for next week's stories up there where everyone can vote whether you're a Patreon or not. All you need is an account. But next week, we have Inside Japan's long experiment in automating elder Care, the best of CES 23. Please pick that one. And then we also have first ever UK space flight set for January 9, which was pick that one. So you have my favorite. You have Barry's favorite, Barry. Sorry. What's the latest over at twelve two. So twelve two. Obviously, the live episode is still what you can see is the 2022 in review. But I'm really excited about the fact that we've got some really cool interviews lined up for 2023. So the next episode to come out will be my future look onto 2023, what we can hope to expect. And I recorded my first interview yesterday, today, and I'm not going to say who it was with yet, but Legend isn't going far enough. Legend. And I'll leave it up. Can you just type it to me so I can see that's great. No. All right, let's get into Human Factors news so I can forget about this.



That's right. This is the part of the show all about human factors news. Barry, what is our exciting story this week? Exciting story? Anyway. This week's story is Transportation Research Board 2022 Annual Report. So you've all excelled. You sell this week rather than give us our usual article, which you don't need a page, maybe two pages long, we have a 44 page report to digest and talk about. But Nick and I have done it this report is an interesting one for us because actually it's all about transportation, something that users engage with, are affected by every single day. It's produced, as we said, by the Transportation Research Board. For those of you unfamiliar with the TRB, especially outside of the US. The TRB is one of the seven program divisions of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, a private, nonprofit institution that provides expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. This 2020 annual report summarizes the TRB's accomplishments in each of its major program areas and how the nonprofit organization has served the nation and the global transportation professional community throughout the year. Tibi provides leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence based information exchange research and advice regarding all modes of transportation. Despite the significant impact you would think that human factors place in transportation research, actually, in this report, it simply doesn't get a mention in the main body, though it does get in the titles of two reports listed in the appendix. Equally baffling, from my perspective is the lack of mention of human error, user error, UX UI, or any of really what we would call our big hitter keywords. But they have had major drives to include more diverse voices in transportation research, as well as devoting a significant section of climate resiliency and sustainability, which is something that's quite close to my heart. So, Nick, when you reviewed the report, did you get transported away, transported away by the content of this report? Are you driven to any new nuggets of knowledge, or was it all just a bit congested for you? You were so close. You were so close to landing it. Yeah. So the title of this episode is A pun and a double Entendre. So it's driving us wild for a couple of reasons. One is because this is not the report I thought it was when I selected it for the poll to have you, all our listeners, vote. And so I think the report I was thinking of, we'll talk about in just a little bit, but it still got some good human factors applications despite them not mentioning any of the big hitter keywords, although I do have one that was mentioned in their safety. So there's that. Yeah, I know, Barry. I see you. I'll let you talk in just a second. But I just want to say, great job, TRB. I guess this, to me, is the end of the year report they put out to kind of say, here's everything that we did as kind of like a documentation piece. And it's not the thing I thought it was, which was kind of consolidating 2022 data. Yeah, I think it's one of these things, isn't it? I think as a body, you want to reflect on your successes, you want to reflect on what you've achieved. And there's a lot of really interesting information here and it's an organization. It boasts over 8000 volunteers and they've produced a significant body of knowledge. And so great job. Congratulations. I do have a problem that, as I said, that human fact is only mentioned twice, given some of the other things that you hear and you think would be big hitters within the topics I've expected. But then there's no mention of AI either. If you did a search for AI, that doesn't get a mention, which is a bit worrying. But I think my takeaway thing is that our listeners and our viewers, I think we're trying to test us. I think they're having a bit of a laugh to see. They see us week in, week out, take articles of varying quality and varying length and produce some top quality analytical review of these things. So they're trying to challenge us this week by giving us this 44 page review, which they know we only get old of this a couple of hours before the show. And so therefore, they want to see whether we look to that challenge or reading 44 pages and coming up with an articulate summary and insightful knowledge or insightful analysis of it. And I'm not sure whether to the challenge no, we got it. Well, we have, we've done it. I didn't need dinner tonight. I didn't have to talk with the family at all. I just sat here and read this report and I've known a lot more. So think about what you've done and go vote on next week's story for the top stories of CES. Yes, I look forward next week to talking about the spaceflight from the UK. It's going to be the Japanese elderly story. I know it. Anyway, let's actually get into this report. So we're still going to do this our due diligence. And yes, you mentioned that there's not a whole lot of mention of human factors concepts in here. There's a big one, safety, right, which I kind of called out. But you're right, this is a very high level report where it's kind of a meta report of all the reports that they've put out. Well, it's not meta in the sense that it analyzes everything contained with those. It's a recap report summary. It's a summary. It doesn't actually go into some of the topics that some of the sub reports, if you want to call them that way, some of their top reports that they've put out throughout the year would cover. So I think maybe you've pulled out some of the top three webinars in the top three publish publications. There we go. That's the word. You want to go through those? I take the webinars. You take the publications. That sounds great because we know what it's like to do a webinar. I mean, we do them every week. They're not easy and trying to get people engaged and trying to come up with topics that people want to work with. So I've got a lot of respect for. I mean, basically they put out 60 webinars in a year, which is more than one a week. One a week. So that's about the same cadence as what we do with this podcast. And so when they've done it, they've done over 60, but their top three most attended, therefore the most popular. In third place was transportation in an aging society. The future is now. Now, we've talked about this before on the podcast. Two was pedestrian analysis, current practice resources and applications, which is really good. It's sort of getting into looking at what the user group is effectively and what the target audience is. And then at number one, which slightly baffles me is Temporary Paper Markings and Removal Practices in work zones which they had over 300 people attending that webinar.



Stunning. Look, I know it sounds yes, that is a lot of people, right? You can't even get that many people to listen live for us. Although we do do this weekly and it's a different story every week. So I do want to mention though that this is like folks from every different state, many different cities, municipalities who their job is to do this stuff. And so it makes sense that there would be a lot of attendance for some of the latest and breaking news in pavement markings and removal practices. The good thing around these sort of webinars, they're not dissimilar to the webinars we do with the Charter Institute of Human Factors. It's not like what we're doing here where we're just where we're finding out the latest news of the week. These are all coalescing people who've got a specific interest. And so I would imagine that the people attending the webinar and temporary payments is a different user cohort to the pedestrian analysis, is different again to the aging society and within them different topics. When you look at the entire list, they've covered a wide range of things and all credit to them to be able to draw in that sort of audience. Because it's not just, I guess here we rely on or take advantage of people who come and just listen to every week about whatever it is that we talked about that week. Whereas here you go to advertise what your particular topic is, you've got to push it out there to make sure the relevant people know that it's actually going to happen and reach out to them to say, look, this is happening. Would you like to listen to it or even participate in it? So there's a lot more effort that goes into or there is a lot of effort that goes into doing these specific topic events to make sure that they fulfill the brief. Really? Yeah. And it's hard to talk about this from a human factor's perspective, so I'm going to talk about it from like a science communication perspective. This is great that you have so many attendees on what I would call niche niche areas like niche within a niche, right? The pavement markings and removal practices is a niche within surface transportation, which is a niche in itself, at least for us human Factors. Right? So how do you advertise that to those people? And you got to understand that these are not just Human Factors professionals. These are folks who are actual practitioners and people who do the removal themselves, right? So they need to know some of these tools and techniques, which is great. And I think that you can say something there for training that having these recurring or I guess more than once a week webinars on various topics is a great way to tackle training for folks, especially if it has some practical applications. I think overall there's a lot to be said about the webinar format, especially if it's coming off as like a classroom type of information dissemination piece. If it's an open discussion, that's more like what we do here. We do an open discussion on some of these topics every week. But if it's more sort of best practices communication, then that's I think more education for practitioners. Well, we did mention that they did do over 150 publications in 2022. Their three top downloaded ones were the highway safety manual user guide. Now, this is the one that I thought that we were actually looking at today. Now this document, Barry, has a whole intro section on human factors dedicated towards human factors. It mentions it in the title. So here's what you're talking about, right? Some key takeaways from this one here were basically focusing on roadway safety predictive methods. So like estimating safety effectiveness, the expected and predicted crash frequencies. And then they also looked at guidance on applications. So for different roadway segments, interchanges intersections, actually applying different things to these types of roadways they had in that safety manual. And that one is always a fun one to peek at. I think we may have actually talked about it on the show before, but it's always one of those ones where you peel it open and you're just like, this is good, this is juicy. There's a lot of Human Factor stuff in here. That's why I thought this week would be great to talk about that. But it's not that. So let's get into number two just before you jump. Yeah. Quick question. That's a highway safety manual. But then that says highway safety manual. User guide. Is that just a user guide to be able to use the Safety Manual? Oh, that's a good question. I'm glad you brought that up. No, maybe that's really title. Anyway, yeah, I had the same question and I don't think it is. In fact, I was just looking at the report and I don't think that is the case. Because you're saying it would be a user guide for the Safety Manual. Yeah, which would then lead me to think that the Safety Manual was really hard to use. But anyway sorry, I'm ambiguous titling. Well, no, because there's a section in here using the Highway Safety Manual user guide. They have a section on how to use the guide and then they have an overview of the Highway Safety Manual. So maybe it is, I don't know. Now I'm confused. So the thing that you'll be talking about tonight, you're not actually sure what it is either, right? I'm fairly sure I know what it is when I see it. It's like art but it's got some human factors in it and actually mentions the term. So we like it no matter what it's about. Anyway, I really interrupted you with facts and stuff. That's okay. That's what this whole show is about. So we're going to get into the number two most published there, which was Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership and Analysis Queues and Responses. That's the full title. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership Analysis Causes and Responses. Some of the key takeaways here, we're basically looking at some of the causes of ridership decline. There's the causes in the title, but also looking at sort of multi city evaluation so when they're taking transportation from city to city, also looking at some trends for bus ridership by time of day. And they also did a lot of different case studies looking at specific cities and evaluating future strategies. And I think we actually selected this as a top story early last year. I feel like it must have been because I do remember reading some of this where there's a lot of human factors related stuff in here, reducing those barriers to entry. With respect to public transportation, we actually talked about on the show before this might have been before your time on the show, Barry, but talking about the sprawling nature of cities and speed limits and basically what all that? Means when you have higher speed limits and greater distances between cities. Makes things less walkable and less transportable. And therefore, public transportation can't necessarily handle those types of multi city relationships. So it's interesting for sure. Yeah, go ahead. It was definitely before me because I remember listening to it as I was doing DIY in the back garden because you also talked about equality of basically people be people from different types of backgrounds being able to use it and then also some people being excluded from it. So I remember it well. Yes, well, and I mean the TRB had this whole in this report that we're talking about tonight has the whole section on basically inclusion and equity. And so that's great to see that they are sensitive to those topics that folks may not have the same access to transportation. And then the last I guess the most downloaded downloaded is the metric they're looking at here is traffic Signal Control strategy for pedestrians and bicyclists. Key takeaways of this, they were looking at some analysis of crash data. They look at guidance for pedestrian and cyclist needs and then also looked at performance measures and interventions with respect to those performance measures for interventions. I think. So really interesting that that one in particular got the highest, most downloaded. I'm curious though, did you talk to Mr. Paul Sam about cycling at some point? Yes. No, we did still are doing a study in Australia around cycling and basically cycling the emissions and cycling accidents and things. And so they've developed a tool, I think it's called Crit, but I could be wrong in that. But I think it's called Crit where they encourage cyclists to do self reporting, to be able to develop more data because there is a lot of data around cars and vehicles in general because there is legislative need to report that type of data. But actually when you look at pedestrians and pedestrian near misses so quite a big deal. So if you maybe step out into the road and then step back because the car cuts across you, then you're not going to go and report that to anybody and particularly cyclists. And here in the UK there is lots of focus of cycling, particularly in London where you've got some really you've got some really busy roads. I would never cycle in London, it looks really unsafe. But you've got cyclist behavior in of itself causing some cyclists sort of jump red lights and things like that. And then you've got people, big buses, big cars, big these big SUVs driving too close to cyclists and driving into cyclists lanes. So I think that's a really interesting type of report that I think would be useful over here around how do you actually use traffic signals to control them? Yeah, and I do remember we snuck a little bit of that conversation in at the tail end of our conversation about AGI with Paul at HFES this year. So if you want to go listen to that, feel free to go listen to our interview with Paul Salmon from HFES and then obviously over at twelve two, it sounds like you talked a little bit more in depth on it. So there's the top three most downloaded. So what do you think? Just at a high level, Barry, what does this tell us about the state of public transportation? What are some of the interesting topics that you are seeing trend wise in the grand scheme of things? I think there's a few things that I'm really keen that are really excited to see in there, that there is this focus on climate change and sustainability around transport systems. And so there was one of the publications that they give out there that was based on making sure that the aerospace systems are ready for sustainable fuel, sustainable technologies and things like that. So the fact that they've got that on a focus despite them not appearing in the sort of the top three or top five most attended or most unloaded things, they still feel the need to push that forward. The other interesting bit I thought was actually not necessarily around transport itself, but around the way that they've organized themselves and they took a bit of a poll about whether people wanted to meet face to face or webcam doing a hybrid model. And actually after the 2021 virtual meeting, they surveyed all their attendees and really want and they overwhelmingly said that they wanted to do the face to face meeting. And really what they saw highlighted was doing a proper full hybrid model where you know, you can do a face to face and you can get equally as rich an engagement remotely was just logistically, to quote it from the report, was logistically and financially infeasible. So they actually worked out the ways of doing basically making sure that their in person event was as safe as it possibly could be and then they could do some other stuff as well because they've done these webinars and things like that. I think they've got a good blend there, which I think I sort of feel from that times with my own personal experience having done now I'm much more comfortable doing online events, I'm comfortable doing in person events, I still struggle with hybrid events, trying to get the balance right for both people. So I just thought it was interesting. It's the first time I've seen in print an organization actually deliver that sort of evaluation. Yeah. Just taking a look at the trends in the field of surface transportation here. Looking at the top three webinars, the top three downloaded publications here, there's a trend that I'm noticing, and I don't know if this has been a trend over the last couple of years or if it's just this last year. There's a lot more focus on the individual pedestrian piece or sort of less vehicle related. So you have this accessibility when it comes to transportation and public transportation. You have the pedestrians and bicyclists in the top publications and then in the webinars you have a pedestrian analysis that to me tells me that even the aging society a little bit, I'd imagine that that's kind of focusing on the individual and how things are not necessarily accessible to them as you age. So to me that is a really important distinction because you're then putting that focus onto the individual that is not interacting with a two tonne vehicle. It seems like there's more of a focus on the actual people walking about or choosing these more prosocial behaviors. And that to me would indicate that focus towards the climate ergonomics ultimately because if you're focusing on walking, if you're focusing on public transportation, if you're focusing on cycling, then that to me would communicate. They're not looking at cars as much, they still are, but the hot stuff right now is looking at well, how can we make things more green, more sustainable with those methods of transportation? So that's what stuck out to me, at least from at least the top few that we're looking at here. Yeah. And if you look through the entire report, they talk about the communication section at the end as well. And it seems to be a lot more about the transportation system as a whole, rather than just looking at the automobile and then sort of things, as you say, it's looking at how does the pedestrian interact with it is looking at a whole systems approach or a sozo system or systems approach, which is really good. And then it goes a lot more into respecting and understanding the different types of representation that it has. So it talks a lot more about LGBTQIA, plus it talks about Women's History Month, black History Month, about having the diversity of input, which just screams awareness, which is which is really good. And I think that if they keep on going in this way, what is underpinning this report, which I possibly should have said right at the beginning, is they have a five year plan, and we're only into year two of that five year plan. So it was launched last year and running it all the way up to 2027. And so this is year two of that strategic plan. And if you keep on going in this route, then I look forward to talking about it next year. Yeah, well, we'll see if it gets selected for a story next year. But you're right. You're absolutely right. They're still kind of early on in this plan. I don't know. It's fun to look at a domain like surface transportation interests me. It's not my area of expertise. It interests me because there's often a lot of really fun little interesting things that will pop up. And you say, oh, you're looking at the width of those markings. Okay, that's cool. And then you start to think about, well, how is that any different from looking at sort of the differences in an interface? Because the road is the interface in a lot of ways for pedestrians. Well, it's part of the interface, but it's interesting to me. So, anyway, all that being said, I picked the wrong report and we're going to any last words on this one, Barry? No, I think congratulations to them. They've clearly had a good year. I'd like to see something like how we can apply the learnings from this over here in the UK and how we would seek to do that. But I think I need to talk to different people to make that happen. No, I think you flip everything on the other side of the road, right? Is that how it works? Oh, that's true. And we have slightly more lights. Yeah. Anyway, thank you to our patreon and all of our listeners this week for selecting our topic. Thank you to our friends over at the Transportation Research Board for our new story this week. If you want to follow along, we do post the links to your original articles and our weekly roundups on our blog. Or you can join us on our discord for more discussion on these stories. Like I said, you can always vote for the next story on our Patreon page. Patreon or not, it's open to everybody. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back to see what's going on in the Human Factors community right after this. Yes, huge. Thank you, as always to our patrons. Patrons. Why do I keep doing that tonight? Patrons. We especially want to thank our Human Factors Cast All Access patrons, Michelle Tripp. Hey, by the way, we usually like to take a little pause here to talk about some of the things we have going on, and this week is no different. Although this week is interesting because it's going to be an answer to a question that we're going to have a little later on, so keep that in mind. This is an answer to one of the it came from in the next section. Just pretend like we're not there yet, and then I'll reference this anyway. Hey, we have a digital media lab. I don't know if you knew about that, but we have a Human Factor cast Human Factors cast Digital Media Lab. Now, I love our lab mates. We are focused on communicating human factors. So this podcast is just one of the many things that we're working on over there. We have a ton of different exciting projects that we're working on, and it's really focused on communicating human factors in a fun, interesting, entertaining way. And we can do that in a variety of different ways. That's text based media. That's audio visual media. So there's even some experimental things like virtual reality. How do you learn in virtual reality about a complex topic like Human Factors? Maybe we're trying something. Who knows? If you want to come work in our lab, it's all volunteer. We invite you to do so. Reach out to us. You can get some work experience, enhance your portfolio by working on some of these projects. Get experience working with a worldwide distributed team. We have folks from all over the world, UK, Australia I know I'm forgetting other places that are worldwide us. That's a given. But it's great for undergrads who are looking to get into grad school. There's the answer for later on. And you get to work with some industry tools that we got our hands on. So that's kind of fun, too. All that being said, the lab is a great place. If you haven't heard of our lab and want to learn more or get in touch with us about potentially volunteering for the lab, reach out to us on any of our platforms. We're more than happy to have a chat with you, see if it's something that might work out for both of us. All right, let's get into this next part of the. Show we like to call it came from It came from. Oh, that's right. It came from It came from where? It came from all over. This is part of the search part of the show where we search all over the Internet to bring you topics the community is talking about. If you find any of these answers useful or helpful, give us a like to help other people find this content, no matter where you're watching or listening. So there's three tonight. This first one here is by Penguin Mumble. On the UX Research subreddit they write is UX Research over hyped as a field? I'm curious about the big boom in UX Research as a hot or trendy profession. It seems like everywhere I look it's a person wanting to transition into UX Research or a bootcamp coaching service promising support with getting UX research with getting into UX Research. My question is, is UX Research becoming overhyped and oversaturated? Barry, what do you think? Yes and no. I think UX oliver it is trendy. It is a hot topic at the moment. There is lots of discussion, debate from both sides, the human factor side and the UX side about is UX just part of human Factors? And we sort of talk before around our different views on that. I think it is great that it's getting lots of attention because it is trendy, it is making it look a bit sexy and that type of thing. And quite frankly, we've needed this for a long time. So yes, it's getting the attention. Is it being overhyped? Possibly. But I don't think that's a bad thing at the moment. An oversaturated? Not yet. I think there is still plenty of UX jobs out there that I've seen, particularly if you are taking the view that actually UX is part of the Human factors domain. But I can see getting that way in the future. We've talked in the past about boot camps and things like that. Are people just trying to say you can become a UX researcher if you do my boot camp for a weekend and suddenly that makes you a fully fledged person and people like us sitting here with like 1020 years experience and we still are only scratching the surface of some of this stuff. That's a definite maybe and I think a little bit maybe. It depends as well. What do you say, Nick? The field is hot right now. The number one topic I talked to New Mentees about is how do I get into the field of UX research? It's kind of crazy how many people have found UX Research over the last couple of years and have gravitated towards it. So the fact that people enjoy it is not surprising to me. The fact that so many people want to come to it is not surprising to me. The fact I think that we're looking at here from this perspective, is it overhyped? I don't necessarily think it is, perhaps. I think a lot of people, employees see value in it, but I don't think a whole lot of companies have got to that point where they're like, this is a necessary this is a fight that we've been fighting for years, but I think there's more and more people who want to get in and not enough opportunities. So therefore it looks saturated. And I think that's where we're at. And so it's harder for new folks to get into the field from transitioning from other fields. To me, it doesn't feel over saturated. It feels like it feels like there needs to be more opportunities, but that would be over saturated. It just feels like



maybe. Is it overhyped? Maybe. It depends. There you go. All right, this next one barry, this one is interesting because they've neatly packaged up twelve questions for us. I think it's twelve. It better be twelve. They've neatly packaged up many questions for us. So I think what we'll do is, since we have a little bit of time here, that first story today didn't really take us a whole lot of time. What we'll do is we'll kind of go through each question and answer it and then we'll move on to the next one. I'd like to start with a couple of them here. This is from the human factors subreddit. This is KAG Leyan Y I hope I said that right. Seeking human factors engineering career help. Can you please answer these questions? I'm unsure if I should choose human factors engineers. My career. Okay, so this is somebody who's completely looking at the field. Do they want to pick it? The ones that we don't really cover on the show, I'm going to kind of focus on. Like I said, there's twelve here, but I think we focus on the ones that maybe we haven't touched on so much or bear repeating this first one here. How much do you think you could benefit the world with this career? Loads. So from a basic standpoint of if you do, I mean, firstly, we don't talk about human factors engineering very much in the grand scheme of things. So I really come out around human factors engineering quite close to my heart. So benefit the world with the Korea? Well, actually, now that we are starting to understand that human factors in HFE really works outside the workplace as well, so it isn't just purely scoped to the environment of our workplace. I think we're only just starting to really get this idea of almost metahuman factors and things like that. We mentioned earlier on in this episode around climate economics, which is the application of human factors to global challenges. So just the fact that we can now think in that scale at that size, I think we are now realizing that almost the world's, Royster, so fundamentally, at a really basic level, doing HFE, doing it properly, means that you're going to get really good engineering solutions, your safe solutions that will delight your user because you've got them in that engineering development. So you will hang for a small level, creating good quality products and you can save the world. Nick, do you ever miss anything with that scope there? Yeah, you missed a couple of things. I'm going to bring us back down to Earth, pun intended. Look, here's the thing. You could save the world with this. Like, human factors is a fairly ubiquitous field. It can be applied to literally every single thing on this planet. The part where I caution against that is, or at least the thinking that you could save the world is that it will largely depend on what you're working on. So if you're working on something like a very specific line, on a very specific lane, on a very specific street, in a very specific small town, in a very small town, rural America, right? Then you're going to save the people of that town. I still think it's worth considering that you can save people's lives absolutely unequivocally with human factors, and that in itself should be a reward. Or you can improve people's lives if you're not saving them, if you're not working on safety related things, you can absolutely improve people's lives by making things easier to do. And that in itself is one of the most rewarding things as a human factors practitioner, that I get to do, when I look at the end of the day and I see, oh, this person has improved their output by whatever, that, to me, doesn't translate. Oh, that means they've increased their efficiency, that means they're spending less time getting frustrated on the things that were holding them back before. And so it matters which lens you look at the world through. You could save the world with this if you were working in climate. Ergonomics, yeah, absolutely. If you were working in standards, think about how many lives you would save with standards like that's. A lot. Right. So thinking about it from that lens a lot. You could absolutely benefit the world, but largely depends on the scope. Do you have any rebuttals to that, Barry? No, I'd agree with you, but if you do want to save the world, there is now a fully funded PhD that is available here in the UK that you get to work with me and Caldif University. That is an open thing right now to be able to come and save the world through human factors engineering. Just saying. Look at that. All right, Barry, this next question is really interesting. Do you have any regrets about human factors engineering in this career?



Yes, I do have one. Regret, I think. And it's not regret is a strong word, I think. So, in many ways, I wish I'd known about human factors earlier. We talked before about where my soul career path and the fact that my initial degree is commanding control. So I'm an engineer first and then I found Human Factors. I wish in many ways I'd found it earlier, so I could have done more with it, but then if I found it earlier, I want to do everything else that I'd done which then influenced the way I work about things now, et cetera, et cetera. So it's a sort of regret that is kind of non realistic because I would have got there.



I wish I'd had more, I guess, confidence to go for some different types of jobs. There's been a lot of jobs I had earlier in my career that I took the safer option perhaps and stayed in the domain that I know very well. And I had potentially a couple of opportunities where I could have broken out of it and done something else or stayed within Human Factors, but maybe gone into slightly different domains. But then again, I don't want to be doing what I'm doing now. So they're not really regrets, but they're almost what ifs they're hypotheticals almost? I do sort of muse on them occasionally. Yeah. Do you regret anything I do? Is it career specific? I mean, do you consider the podcast career specific? Because I regret bringing you on. That will be a scanner. There's actually one moment I really do regret with the podcast, and I will tell you that moment in the post shows okay, no, there's one moment, and I do feel like that had maybe a negligible impact on my career in some way. But in terms of career specific regrets, I think the biggest regret for me is getting so in my head about a project that I was working on that I had kind of a mental breakdown over it. And I will roughly describe the situation. So I was working on a project where there was a high profile project I was working on and there were some real life and death consequences associated with this product. And ultimately I had in my head that I was the sole person responsible for the Quick reference guide for this system. And ultimately I was on a hike. And I'm like, if I don't get this thing right, the people are going to use it wrong and it's going to keep their lives. And is that on me then? This whole distribution of responsibility, especially in military applications, and it's like that to me, weighed on me so heavily, but it's like, no, don't get out of your head, Nick, because you got to think about it from this perspective. You writing this thing up is going to save people's lives. And if they misinterpret what you wrote, you gave it your best effort and it went through many reviews before it got to that desk. So that's how I had to think about it to get myself out of it. So thinking about it in the sense of I am the sole person responsible for this and I not doing a good job would take lives from this Earth. That was my biggest regret, is to think about things that way. I don't think about things that way anymore, so there's that. Let's see here. Let's do two more here. Do you feel independent and flexible in your role as a human factors engineer? I'm in the lucky position that I run my own company and I get to pick and choose the jobs that I do on the whole. So yes, but equally, you still work within the framework of what it is that we're doing. So I generally have independence. But you're still reporting into a client, you're still reporting into a project, you're still supporting. It's not like I can sit down and lay down the law on things that are going on. I can give my viewpoints, my ideas, my thoughts, and I can pick up and put down jobs that I want to do as opposed to the ones that being told to do it. If somebody tells me to do a job, then I tend to tell them to go away. I'm lucky that I can do that. So yes, I think, yeah, fundamentally, I'm in a very lucky and privileged position to be able to do that. Not everybody is the same. I've been in that position where you're part of a team almost. Sometimes it can be a blessing, sometimes it's a curse. When you're the one human factors person employed as part of a team and you have to go and do something, you know that it might not be the most optimum thing to do. It's not necessarily the wrong thing to do, but it's not the right thing to do. And you basically get it down on how you suck it up, buttercup, because that's what you're doing. And that's one of the reasons I went and tried to set my own consultancy, was because I didn't like that sort of thing. I don't know where it comes across, but I don't like being told what to do. I kind of struggle with authority. What about you, Nick? Are you flexible? Are you independent? Yes and yes. So I think there's an interesting thing going here with this question. As us trained, as human factors practitioners, we have the flexibility to approach problems in different ways. And I brought up this analogy many times, but the jack of all, master of none still better than a master of one. So I think in a lot of ways we are approaching problems through a lens of, okay, which tool can we use in our toolbox that's going to solve this problem? And you have the flexibility as a practitioner to decide. A lot of times, even if you're working in a team, you have a say. I've never worked on a team where they've completely disregarded your expertise. Even on a human factors team, right? Like a team of human factors practitioners where they've disregarded your expertise. I've never had that they've at least taken it into consideration. Okay, you're laughing. Well, I've had somebody who's tried, right? But I mean, you can be persuasive and you might not win, and I've had that happen, but you can certainly at least have other people listen to you. So flexibility in the way that you approach problems, independent in the way that how you sort of approach those problems as well, unless you've specifically outlined, we're going to approach this problem in this way. So, yes, I think short answer, yes. All right, let's do one more now. Barry, I want you to pick this next one. Which one do you think that we have not covered enough on the show? Because there's quite a few here and I might even pull this for next week. Well, yeah, there's one here about values, but I think we need to do that another time when we actually got time to think about it in a bit more detail. That's quite a biggie, I guess, for me. It's an interesting what is your biggest fear for this position and how did you overcome it? Oh, good one. So you're asking me or am I asking you that one? Right, I'm asking you. Okay. My biggest fear for this position is that I think I talked a little bit about it before with respect to getting so in my head about a responsibility that's on me. So I guess my fear would be that I get back to that level where I feel that anything that I do will impact the people I'm working with so significantly that it will either cause harm or stop things from functioning entirely in a way that shifts these fundamental. Like right now I work on supply chain logistics, right? So it's completely different from military domain. But is there something that I'm going to do that's going to throw a wrench in supply chain logistics that's going to mess us up for years? So that's getting in my head about these things that are larger than life. Because of your role as a human factors practitioner. What about you, Barry? What is your biggest fear and how do you deal with it? So I've got two. I've got a personal one and a professional one, I guess. So my personal one and I've talked about this before, is imposter syndrome. I have that constantly all the time. And with what I've got coming up this year, do I feel that massive that you're sitting there going, I'm fully qualified in what I do, this, that and the other, and yet do you feel that? But I guess the biggest fear I have on a day to day basis in projects being and certainly I'm lucky enough to have worked in some decent positions on some quite big projects, what happens if people just don't pay any attention? So they turn around and say, yeah, you got your human factor stuff. Great, thanks for that. Whatever. Not bothered. We are taking a project decision. We don't care. And really, that I've seen it happen before, another project where they've made a decision that they want to cut something and Human Factors is the thing that gets cut. Thankfully, it's not been one of mine, but I've been close enough to it to sit there and work with the people to go, wow. And I guess my biggest fear is that I'm not persuasive enough of the value of what it is that we do and therefore it gets cut. And therefore I put lives at risk by not being strong enough, by being a strong enough advocate. Thankfully not there yet, but it's still, I mean, working on some I'm possibly working on the largest value project right now that I've ever worked on. And that fear is real almost on a daily basis. Yeah, it's like we have the same fear about ultimately impacting the people. All right, the second half, that was how have you overcome it? And I don't know yet. Yeah, same thing. I'll answer that on my own. I'll let you know when I retire about what I did about that, but living it every day. All right, we got one more here. This one's by SS J Kosh on the Human Factor subreddit. How do I gain experience for grad school? I got denied from a Human Factors and Ergonomics program for not having related work experience. So far, most of the work I've done has been in mental health field. How do I build up my resume and work experience to cater to a Human Factor's degree? Barry wow. I'm quite intrigued that they've not been thrown out of a program for not having work related experience, an education program for that. Anyway, so we sort of mentioned we boxed around this quite a few times before. So you work in the mental health field, so you do a lot of stuff there that might not have the exact words that we're looking at, but do a lot of the stuff that we do. Things like the way that you engage with patients is very similar to user engagement, the way that you get feedback and things like that. So there's going to be a lot of things that you do that crossover, identify them and work out the difference in language and that will help you build up them little bits of your resume. So that is almost trying to get the something for nothing piece. But then you've got nick might mention something about some online lab. I'll leave that for him to talk about. But fundamentally, there are things out there. There's online learning, there are companies that will get you can look for placements and things like that. It's getting that balance right between what you're doing on a day to day basis. So if you're doing this alongside work, or you're just trying to find if you got the time to be able to go and look for different jobs, but internships and things like that. Nick, if you got any sort of online resources that you think might help with this type of thing hay, do you remember that part that probably most of the people skipped? Because everyone skips that part and they just go to came from. So I answered this. The Human Factors cast digital Media Lab communicating Human Factors exciting projects, work experience enhance your portfolio. It's not an advertisement for it, but yeah, get in a lab, get some in terms of how to get experience, do your own personal projects, that type of thing. But joining a lab is probably a really great way because they have a lot of stuff that needs to be done and there's no shortage of work that you get to work on that have direct impacts towards human factors. A lot of the times. Right? So that's where I would say we have a lab to do that. All right, let's get into one more thing. Needs no introduction. Barry, what's your one more thing this week? So my One More thing I thought was going to be really exciting and it turns out it was sort of exciting with a bit of the end and then talking about the Virgin Nobbit launch of Cosmic Girl and launch of one. So Cosmic Girl was the the idea behind Novit was that it's seven three seven and rockets and then it takes its cargo and puts it into into space, into orbit. At least that was the plan. And it didn't quite work like that. And I'm not going to go too much into the detail about the outcome because I think hopefully next week just vote, but we might talk about the entire thing next week. But the main thing I want to focus on is they did a live coverage through YouTube. Now that's not new because SpaceX has been doing that, NASA has been doing that. And you get the talk in heads, you know, where they're at in the mission and all this sort of stuff. But I have to say that the way that Virgin Orbit did, it was terrible. It was appalling. There was something about you thought that they would have looked at the way that some of these other companies have done it and just realized that you cannot have just big screens. Basically they had a nice little display where you had a bit of a flight timeline where you were in the particular mission. You had some key stage information. So what were you doing? What was the time to take off? It time to the next thing coming along. But then they had some talking head interviews with Secretary of State and things like that. Then they just got into this bit and say, well, it was almost like we couldn't be bothered to fill this anymore. We haven't got any more talking heads. So they just had a big screen, said we'll be right back and that stayed up there for a good 510, 15 minutes and then they would do a little bit more and then this big screen would come back and he's like wasted. 54,000 people had gone into YouTube to watch this and they just sat watching the equivalent of a lift music screen. I was so not disappointed in as the oh, look what they're doing. But the missed opportunity, the fact that this was the first launch of a space vehicle from the UK, such an opportunity and it was just like, oh, well, you know what grinds my gears about that? We are a small operation here and even we had placeholders for when we did a live stream from HFES earlier this last year, right? We had like those 15 minutes spots. You're still getting bits and pieces, even if they are advertisements, you at least have something there to keep you going in the background instead of because we had people not turn up when we expected them, we had backups for things like that. We thought that might happen. This was really early stage, so they were doing this we'll be right back. When the plane was taking off or when it was just starting to orbit. I can understand around the second stage burn piece because that's when things start to go wrong and they were getting some optimal burns and so you could sort of see them maybe going there, going, oh, hold on a second. We need to get things sorted out and we don't have a message yet. That's bad planning. But forgivable but to do it so early on and clearly just nothing there. I was like, anyway, that's probably been the longest one more thing that I've done in quite a while. But I was frustrated and annoyed. I'm sorry, I'm sorry it didn't work out and maybe we'll talk about it next week or maybe we'll talk about CES next week, who knows? You know, you the listeners know, my one more thing this week was so I didn't talk about this last week because I talked about potty training, but it is a new year and I have been over the last couple of years making New Year's resolutions that have been non sticky. They're soft in a way. Last year, my goal was to set up a team of individuals to help me out, right? Doctor, dentist, I doctor, just move to a new place. And so it's like getting all that stuff in order. And I did. And I feel like I accomplished that New Year's resolution this year. It's really nebulous and something that I'm even struggling with even saying, but just being at peace with letting some things go. I have a lot of games in my backlog that I want to play, a lot of TV shows that I want to watch, a lot of movies that I want to watch, a lot of books that I want to read that I haven't got to read, a lot of projects that I want to do that I can't necessarily do. I don't have the time for everything. And so my goal this year is to just be okay with letting some things go that I will never, ever do, even though I want to do them or work on them or whatever. There's just being at peace. And it's so hard because I'm like, I could just not do that book, but I'm a completionist and I want to. And it's hard. It's hard. I struggle with it. Even right now, as I'm talking to you about it, I can't fully let go. And so my resolution is to just let go of something. And with that, I'm going to let go of this episode. So that's it for today, everyone. If you liked this episode and enjoy some of the discussion about roadway hazards, I guess I'll encourage you to go listen to episode 239 where we talk about can we define sex as risky driving behavior? Comment wherever you're listening. What you think of a story this week? Did you like that report? I don't know. For more in depth discussion, you can join us on our discord community, visit us on our official website, sign up for our newsletter. Stay up to date with all the latest Human Factors news. If you like what you hear, you want to support the show, there's a couple of things you can do right now. You can stop what you're doing, and you can leave us a five star review on whatever podcaster you listen to, or our website, wherever. Just helps us other people find our show, tell other people about us. That's the second way that you can help. Word of mouth is really, really important for the way that we operate here. We're a small niche community. If you can tell one or two people about this show and say, hey, these guys talked about transportation, research boards, recap report, and it was a great episode, I'm putting that energy out there. Maybe you guys will too. Or three, if you have the financial means to do so, we have a wonderful patreon page with a bunch of rewards for our supporters. If you have the financial means to do so, we like to give back to you. We have a bunch of fun things over there. Like I said, we just went through a big refresh on all of our stuff. There's new podcasts coming out beyond Human Factors Minute just for you all. There's our academy, so if you want a part of any of that, go take a look. Mr. Barry Kirby, thank you for being on the show today. Where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about your disappointment with the Virgin launch? Well, if you want to find out about how it's disappointed, particularly about the way it was portrayed on YouTube, then you can find. Me on Twitter and other social media basmiska or if you want to come and hear my amazing interview that's going to launch in a couple of weeks, come and find me on twelve or two the Human Practice Podcast, which is a twelve or two As for me, I've been your host, Nick Rome. You can find me on our Discord on cross social media at nick underscore Rome. Thanks again for tuning in the Human Factors cast. Until next time.



Barry KirbyProfile Photo

Barry Kirby

Managing Director

A human factors practitioner, based in Wales, UK. MD of K Sharp, Fellow of the CIEHF and a bit of a gadget geek.