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Meet: Richard Mogford

Photo of Richard Mogford

Project Manager
Ames Research Center

Who I am and what I do:
I manage a project called "Human Measures and Performance." This project does a variety of human factors research to make systems used by pilots and air traffic controls more "user friendly" and safe.

Areas of expertise:
It is good to have some background in the area of human factors (also called engineering psychology). To manage a NASA project, you also have to know about things like scheduling, planning, budgets, safety, risk management, and reporting. NASA has detailed guidelines on how projects should be managed.

How I first became interested in this profession
I became interested in human factors when I worked at a head injury rehabilitation center. When personal computers first came out, I started trying to adapt them for use by disabled people to help them communicate. When I went back to university, I found that there was a whole area of human factors devoted to aviation and I decided to focus on that.

What helped me prepare for this job
I took courses in experimental psychology (cognitive psychology, perception, experimental design, etc.). I also did several research projects in an air traffic control training facility and became more familiar with research techniques and the jobs of pilots and air traffic controllers.

My role models or inspirations
The professor I worked under in graduate school knew a lot about experimental psychology and I helped him do several projects for the government on interesting topics, such as the visibily of ocean navigational buoys.

My education and training
It is very good for this kind of work to have a masters or Ph.D. degree in human factors or experimental psychology. Practical experience is also important.

Career Path
I got my masters degree in pschology and worked for 10 years in clinical and counseling types of jobs. When I went back to school for my Ph.D., I focused on human factors psychology. I then worked for the Federal Aviation Administration in New Jersey doing various kinds of research and testing, then moved to NASA about five years ago.

What I like best about my job
I like being able to solve practical problems that make systems that pilots and air traffic controllers use better and safer. I enjoy helping others to do this work by managing the tasks and funding, and helping them to do their jobs.

What I like least about my job
Sometimes it takes a long time to get things done and to see the effects.

My advice to anyone interested in this occupation
I suggest spending some time around people who do human factors work and doing some kind of summer internship or work experience to learn more about it.


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