(October 6, 2017) To support Virginia Tech's Military Appreciation Day, two ISE faculty and their graduate students provided "booths" for the President's Suite at the Virginia Tech vs. Old Dominion University football game on September 23, 2017.

From the Auditory Systems Laboratory (ASL), Dr. John Casali and Ph.D. students Major Kara Cave and Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Thompson, both on academic leave from the U.S. Army,  provided two posters and a variety of military headsets for their booth.  Their display was titled: "When Your Life and Hearing Depends on Your Headset:  Design & Evaluation of Tactical Communications & Protective Systems (TCAPS) for the Military Warfighter -- Virginia Tech's:  DRILCOM (Detection-Recognition/Identification-Localization-Communication) Test Battery for Auditory Situation Awareness." 

One poster covered the last nine years of research in ASL on the specific problem of compromised auditory situation awareness caused by headsets and hearing protectors, which lack necessary features to capitalize on the natural capabilities of human hearing.  The second poster highlighted 11 current and former Ph.D. students from various branches of the U.S. military for whom Dr. Casali was the academic advisor.

The military headsets are used not only to protect soldiers' hearing against gunfire and other noise sources, but also to provide "hear-through" capabilities for external sounds and communications.  President's Suite attendees were allowed to wear the headsets and listen through them, to experience the sound enhancement and noise reduction capabilities of these products.  Attendees also received sample hearing protectors and two ASL brochures, which detail strategies for preserving one's hearing.  Conversations during the event were held with U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith and Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds, both of whom visited the ASL booth.

Dr.  Ali Haskins Lisle, a recent student of Dr. Joe Gabbard from the Cognitive Engineering for Novel Technologies (COGENT) Lab, presented her dissertation “Conceptualizing the Technology Design Opportunity to Assist Military Veterans with Reintegration.”  Her research highlighted usability criteria for designing technology to help military veterans with reintegration into the civilian community after their services.

Through an interactive display, attendees gained insights about reintegration topics that veterans discussed in their interview sessions (e.g., difficulty interacting with civilians and discrepancy between regimented life and civilian life).  Her presentation also included complementary user-centered design specifications and usability criteria (e.g., connect veterans to other veterans, access transition resources), which were discovered by the use of thematic analysis of transcripts.  Attendees had opportunities to receive copies of two distinct personas that were generated through a novel application of a situated data mining algorithm to the usability criteria data set. One joined the military directly after high school and is now attending college and grappling with the age and maturity gap he encounters with his civilian classmates. The other is a stay-at-home dad who was medically discharged and is struggling with his new role after service.

Networking with Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Dr. Rosemary Blieszner, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Patty Perillo, Virginia Tech Board of Visitors member Greta Harris, and several members from the Alumni of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets (VTCCA) led to new connections and valuable feedback. Additionally, Dr. Haskins Lisle was able to meet the canine ambassador for the Corps of Cadets, Growley II (call sign “Tank”), as well as his handler, Corps of Cadets member Eleanor Franc.