Shull blends Psychology and ISE for driving safety

Harley Atchison

Emily Shull is not your typical Industrial and Systems Engineering doctoral student. 

Before deciding on her post-graduate path, she graduated with a B.A. in Psychology because she was fascinated with human behavior and attention span. After graduating with her bachelors, she decided to pursue a PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering to apply her knowledge of the brain to practical, everyday problems. Currently, she’s studying the future of automated driving. “I believe this has given me a unique perspective on how we investigate, design, and implement automated vehicles in a human-centered way,” she said. 

Shull focuses on two studies with the National Automated Driving Simulator (NADS) under the supervision of Dr. Daniel McGehee and Dr. John Gaspar. One study attempts to transfer control from human to automated vehicle by informing a driving person of the current state of the vehicle via the human-machine interface. She and her team found that the displays resulted in significantly more glances to the road through the driving time as well as a faster response time from the human driver. Her second study focuses on secondary tasks while driving and how to decrease response time in distracted drivers using technologically complex vehicles. 

Shull’s success is proof that to be an industrial engineer, you don’t need to start in engineering from the get-go. Majors like psychology, business, and communications pair well with ISE because they further explore the humanized side of industrial engineering.

Photo of Emily Shull, sitting outside and wearing jeans, a grey long sleeve shirt, and a yellow puffy vest. She is smiling.
Emily Shull poses outside of the NADS facility.