The United Parcel Service (UPS) Foundation has provided a $40,000 grant to the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering for the UPS Doctoral Fellowship in Human Factors and Safety.

For the past 21 consecutive years, UPS has supported graduate education at Virginia Tech, awarding 27 fellowships totaling nearly $1 million.

From this fellowship, a stipend and tuition is provided for at least one doctoral student per year in the human factors and safety concentration of industrial and systems engineering, providing the student with flexibility to write his or her dissertation on forward-looking and novel topics.

This year, the call for proposals emphasized the following technical areas: reduction of stress-strain injuries resulting from physical activities in industrial materials handling operations; reduction of vehicle accidents that are related to compromised situational awareness, driver distraction, and/or lack of visibility, including pedestrian-strike accidents; and reduction of warning-related accidents wherein victims were insensitive to, or did not heed, warning signals.

Fellowship recipient Missie Smith understands the importance of the stipend to advancing research in human factors and safety. Smith’s research is specifically focused on augmented reality head up displays in vehicles and the impact that these displays have on driver performance, perception, and preferences. 

“The UPS Fellowship allowed me to spend more time focused on my own research while also staying involved on campus," said Smith, graduate student in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “I am also enjoying mentoring other graduate and undergraduate students. Giving back in this way would not be possible without the UPS fellowship.”

John Casali, the John Grado Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, successfully proposed the first UPS fellowships in 1996 and continues to serve as the program’s coordinator.

Established in 1951 and based in Atlanta, Georgia, the UPS Foundation identifies specific areas where its backing clearly impacts social issues. In support of this strategic approach, the UPS Foundation has identified the following focus areas for giving: volunteerism, diversity, community safety, and the environment.

Written by Alec Masella

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