Since opening in November, Iowa State University's ATHENA Lab has studied the augmentation and training of humans with engineering, hoping to find solutions to improve the human experience for individuals, such as soldiers and police officers, who require body armor for their protection.
The lab was conceptualized by Thomas Schnieders, a master's student of human computer interaction and industrial engineering, and Richard Stone, an associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering.
Stone created the lab's predecessor in 2008, known as the Human Performance and Cognitive Engineering Lab.
Stone and Schnieders are confident that the lab is improving humans' abilities to complete tasks.
A current project of Schnieders' is focused on an exoskeleton that will help police officers and soldiers improve their handgun skills by increasing the speed of muscle memory development.
Though they do try to enhance performance, Stone says that what they do is more than that.
"A lot of what we do here in the ATHENA Lab is to enhance capability while preserving safety and quality of life," he said.
The lab supports 13 graduate students' work and a range of courses, including human factors and occupational biomechanics.