Q&A with Brooks Kimmel

Brooks Kimmel oversees technical training and employee development for Abacus Technology Corp., which provides communications, graphics, data centers and IT services for NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. He will be giving his keynote presentation at the Applied Ergonomics Conference on March 25, 2014, at 9:45 a.m. 

What is the most pervasive issue or challenge in ergonomics and human factors today?

Perhaps the most pervasive issue from my perspective is the tendency for businesses to take a reactive approach to ergonomics as opposed to a proactive one. In difficult economic times, there seems to be resistance to spending money on design activities or the purchase of well-designed ergonomic equipment, especially in the government contractor world where budgets are tight, profits are shrinking and capital purchases are unfunded. Additionally, the facilities and government-provided equipment (i.e., chairs, desks, et cetera) are extremely outdated and not engineered with human factors in mind. This may not be a government contractor issue alone, but in the world where I work, it is a major obstacle.

Briefly describe how you focus on ergonomics, human factors and/or occupational safety in your work at NASA?

The contract I am currently working is the Information Management and Communications Support. As such, nearly 70 percent of our workforce is admin or software developers and the other 30 percent are field technicians for ground support and telecommunications infrastructure. The majority of the work I support is occupational safety and desktop ergonomics. There are some operations that have allowed for human factors during the design, such as our new data center. Past contracts have been with United Space Alliance (Ground Equipment and Space Flight Ground Support) and Space Gateway Support (infrastructure for space center operations).

What do you plan to discuss in your keynote presentation?

Habitability and human factor contributions to human space flight. I will give a brief introduction and then cover human-system integration (HIS), the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, extravehicular activity (EVA), lunar surface systems, the International Space Station (ISS), the human research program (HRP), and facilities used by NASA to study habitability and human factors.

What would you like attendees to take away from your presentation?

It is my hope that attendees would walk away with a renewed passion and desire to creatively find new and innovative ways to economically meet their needs of the workforce.

For more information about Kimmel and the other AEC keynote speaker, go to the Keynote Speakers Web page.