Conference To Honor UB's Colin G. Drury

Release Date: May 15, 2007 This content is archived.


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A May 17-18 conference of international experts in human factors and aviation safety will honor Colin G. Drury.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A conference featuring international experts in the field of human factors and aviation safety will be held May 17 and 18 to honor Colin G. Drury, Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering who is stepping down from his teaching and administrative duties in the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

The conference, which will feature presentations and a poster session, will be held in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center in downtown Buffalo.

It will be sponsored by the UB Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and SEAS, as well as private donors.

Speakers will include Ram Bishu, Ph.D., professor of industrial engineering at the University of Nebraska; Tim Gallwey, Ph.D., professor of manufacturing and operations engineering at the University of Limerick, Ireland; Patrick Dempsey, Ph.D., director of experimental investigations, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety; Mark Karwan, Ph.D., UB professor of industrial and systems engineering and former dean of SEAS; Shrawan Kumar, Ph.D., professor of physical therapy at the University of Alberta; William Johnson, Ph.D., scientific technical advisor for human factors in maintenance, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); Mao-Jiun Wang, Ph.D., Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, National Tsing Hua University; and Christopher Wickens, Ph.D., professor of mechanical science and engineering at the University of Illinois.

Drury, who will continue his research at UB, is known internationally for combining research into human factors, such as ergonomics, fatigue and training, with studies of human error and quality control to pioneer innovations designed to reduce human errors in numerous industries and sectors ranging from aviation and consumer products to chemical demilitarization.

In aviation, he has worked with security screeners at airports to determine the best ways to do X-ray inspections for weapons and developed staffing models for airports, using industrial engineering principles to determine the optimal levels for keeping passengers flowing through airports efficiently without compromising security.

Drury directs UB's Research Institute for Safety and Security in Transportation (RISST), funded by the Transportation Security Administration, which studies how human factors contribute to errors and inefficiencies in security systems, such as those used to inspect baggage and screen passengers in airports.

Drury, who holds a private pilot's license, is applying techniques he developed during more than 30 years of aircraft-inspection research to the study of transportation security systems.

Data from RISST studies will be compiled in a database and made available to researchers nationwide working on projects to advance public safety. The institute also will apply its resources and findings to improve safety and security outside of airports and in and around other potential terror targets.

Drury is a member of TSA's Scientific Advisory Panel and serves on the National Research Council's Panel on Assessment of Technologies Deployed to Improve Aviation Security. As a member of these panels, he has reviewed security systems in airports around the world.

Current RISST research is focusing on how to reduce language-related errors in aviation maintenance and inspection. RISST also is studying how the long working hours and shift work of inspectors contribute to increased error rates in aviation maintenance and how changes in work hours and conditions can reduce these errors.

Drury also has studied extensively ergonomics and work-related musculoskeletal disorders. In 1998, he co-chaired a National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council steering committee that found a strong biological connection between such disorders and a high level of exposure to physical stressors in the workplace.

The FAA recognized Drury's broad contributions to the fields of aviation safety and human factors when it presented to him its 2005 Excellence in Aviation Research Award.

The same year, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society selected Drury to receive the A. R. Lauer Safety Award to honor his contributions not only to traditional areas of safety, but to consumer products, medical systems, chemical weapons destruction and transportation.

This month, he received the Kenneth Andrew Roe Award from the American Association of Engineering Societies, which honors leadership and dedication to unity within the engineering community.

A UB faculty member since 1972, Drury is a former chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the founding executive director of the Center for Industrial Effectiveness, which works with regional industries to improve competitiveness.

He is a fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the International Ergonomics Association, the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the Ergonomic Society and is a recipient of the Paul Fitts'Award of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the Bartlett Medal of the Ergonomics Society.

Drury received a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Sheffield, England, and a doctorate in engineering production, with a specialization in ergonomics, from the University of Birmingham, England. Before coming to UB, he was manager of ergonomics at Pilkington Glass.

Drury lives in Williamsville.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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