College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Dorneich brings industry experience to IMSE department

By Kelsey Schirm

After working in a collaborative environment for 13 years, new industrial manufacturing and systems engineering (IMSE) faculty member Michael Dorneich is looking forward to sharing his  expertise with Iowa State students and colleagues.

Dorneich attended college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his bachelor’s in 1990 and master’s in 1995, both in electrical engineering. While working toward a PhD in electrical engineering, he was intrigued by a professor who combined engineering and psychology. As a result, he switched his focus to industrial engineering and human factors.

After finishing his doctorate in 1999, Dorneich began a career as a principal research scientist at Honeywell International in Minneapolis, where he has been involved in several NASA-, FAA-, and DARPA-sponsored projects. Several prominent projects gained him notoriety in the science and engineering community, and technologies he has developed have earned him eight patents with 20 more in progress.

One such project involves creating advanced displays and controls for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, NASA’s space shuttle replacement.

Another was a DARPA-funded program that focused on augmented cognition, generating a real-time measure of a person’s workload using biomedical sensors. With this information, he and his colleagues were able to develop a responsive system that could sense worker overload and take over one or more of a person’s tasks to help lower workload.

“This project spawned an entire research thrust at Honeywell in neurotechnology and the use of biosensors to detect cognitive states, as well as revitalized the adaptive systems research area to create automation and systems that respond to humans rather than the other way around,” explains Dorneich.

Ready for a career shift, Dorneich is enthused by the possibilities that await him in academia.

“As a student, I always appreciated professors who had real-world experience,” he says. “So my plan has always been to get some practical experience and then return to academia, but I liked the research so much I ended up staying longer than planned.”

Nonetheless, Dorneich is confident the extra years spent in industry will benefit him as a professor. He has experience in research, writing proposals, publishing papers, and working collaboratively with other engineers; all skills he plans to use at Iowa State.

He hopes to continue his work in adaptive systems and create guidelines and principals to help others establish these types of systems.

And while his career has been focused much on research, he is looking forward to the opportunity to teach for the first time since graduate school, starting with I E 572: Design and Evaluation of Human-Computer Interaction during the spring semester.

Dorneich also looks forward to establishing an effective research program that has a tradition of preparing students for their careers as well as developing a strong set of core classes he will teach in coordination with his IMSE colleagues.

“I’m very much someone who likes to work with others, so it was really Iowa State’s quality of faculty, resources, and partnerships with outside organizations that attracted me to this position,” explains Dorneich. “I’d really like to build a strong program that allows me to collaborate with my fellow faculty.”