Skip to content. Skip to main navigation.

Spring 2018

Inquiry Magazine Archive

Bot Bud

Dream Team

Researchers using $1 million grant to develop iWork vocational system 

A robot

In the manufacturing world, automated technology makes up an increasingly large part of the workforce. But what about the people doing their jobs alongside those robots? Two computer science and engineering researchers at UTA received a nearly $1 million National Science Foundation grant to develop a training system that will school humans on just that.

Professor Fillia Makedon and Associate Professor Vassilis Athitsos are building a smart, robot-based system that assesses workers as they perform simulated manufacturing tasks. Known as iWork, it calculates a person's cognitive skills, like attention and task awareness, plus their physical and collaborative abilities to team with a robot.

"iWork will assess and train both human workers and robot co-workers as they collaborate, producing personalized, low-cost vocational training solutions that have a huge societal impact and affect many economic sectors," says Dr. Makedon.

The team has conducted vocational simulation experiments for years, studying ways to train and prepare people for industries where a worker must safely and efficiently collaborate with advanced robots. The system's modular, easily customizable closed-loop "behavior discovery" data flow has four phases: assessment, recommendation, intervention, and evaluation. After each cycle, iWork recommends—with the assistance of a human factors expert—personalized interventions for vocational training and rehabilitation.

The system, Makedon says, "could impact millions of people, including those facing a type of learning or aging disability or returning from military service with some health issues."

More articles from this issue

UT Arlington - Office of Research