Mesa Community College and Arizona State University Announce Research Partnership

Posted on January 2, 2013 by Angela Askey

The Mesa Community College Virtual Incident Command Center (VICC) and Arizona State University’s Applied Psychology Unit (ASU) will partner in the development of research opportunities that will lead to improved outcomes for major critical incidents.

Currently, data collected during training sessions at the VICC is not used in research studies. The expertise in research brought to the partnership by ASU will help enhance the true-to-life incident command training programs offered at the VICC.

Larry Thacker, Director of the Virtual Incident Command Center stated, "We look forward to partnering with ASU and the research expertise that they can bring to the VICC. Together we can answer many pressing questions about how to more effectively manage emergency response and hopefully improve outcomes."

While participants take part in state-of-the-art simulation training at the VICC, ASU researchers will analyze and measure human behavior during the command of incidents. They will look at metrics such as team work, team cognition, and training regimes. Data collected will show how well a team performs, what they have learned, and effective methods for training.

The areas of study will focus on emergency response for industry, military, first responders, fire departments, police departments, educational institutions, hospitals, power plants, railroads, and airports. Responses to incidents caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, floods, pandemics or man-made causes such as acts of terrorism will be studied.

One of the first projects the team plans to conduct will focus on the cognitive decline in incident command. During this study, researchers will examine how long emergency responders can continue to work in high-stress situations and still make good decisions.

PhD students from ASU majoring in Simulation Modeling and Applied Cognitive Science will visit the VICC to investigate potential research projects.  Dr. Nancy Cooke, Professor of Applied Psychology at ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) is organizing the visit on the ASU side.  Cooke said “The VICC facility is a tremendous resource for the research community.  It provides a testbed in which we can examine cognition and behavior in the rich context of emergency response.”

MCC and ASU are jointly seeking grant funding opportunities to further develop research options.

About ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation – The College of Technology and Innovation, located on ASU’s Polytechnic campus, offers innovative learning models and interdisciplinary educational programs in engineering, applied sciences, management and entrepreneurship.  The college partners with industry through capstone projects and the faculty are deeply engaged in integrative and applied scholarship.  CTI’s 600-acre campus is home to more than 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students.

About Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students to succeed in a local and global community.  Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District.

Please direct media inquiries to Angela Askey at angela.askey@mesacc.edu or Sally Mesarosh at sally.mesarosh@mesacc.edu  or the Office of Institutional Advancement at 480-461-7445.  IA website:  www.mesacc.edu/ia.

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