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Editor’s Note: This article was penned by Jim McCarthy, vice president, Instructional Systems at Sonalysts, Inc. and chair of NDIA’s Human Systems Division. In preparation for the upcoming Human Systems Conference, McCarthy shared highlights about what to expect at this year’s event, some information about key speakers, and some of the important topics that will be discussed during the sessions this year. Read below for his insights on the event:

On Tuesday, March 3 and Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Human Systems Division will welcome a stellar collection of researchers from throughout industry, academia, and the Department of Defense to the Sheraton Pentagon City for its annual meeting. The NDIA Human Systems Division promotes the exchange of technical information and discussions among government, industry, and academia. The Division supports the expansion of research and development in areas related to the human as a system whose performance must be integrated into any military system of systems. To this end, the Division provides a variety of ways for government, industry, and academia to collaborate and advance human performance in air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace through research, education, and consultation. This annual meeting of thought leaders is one of the strategies that it uses.

The year’s theme, “Human Systems Within Multi-Domain Operations,” focuses on the need of the military to simultaneously operate across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace to achieve mission efforts while protecting our service people and national interests. A stellar list of featured speakers brings extra shine to this year’s conference.

Brigadier General Stephen Michael will kickoff the conference Tuesday morning. General Michael is the Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army’s Combined Arms Training Center – Training (CAC-T). CAC-T is responsible for ensuring that the men and women of the U.S. Army have access to the tools and technologies required to enable realistic, operationally relevant training for the Army’s total force. General Michael will be joined on stage by Dr. Holly Handley, an Associate Professor of Engineering Management & Systems Engineering at Old Dominion University. Dr. Handley applies engineering principles and experience in computational modeling to support projects in human systems engineering research and development. She develops models and methodologies to better represent the human component of socio-technical systems. Tuesday’s technical sessions will explore the ways in which the government and industry are working together to support personalized education and training and to maximize warfighter protection, sustainment, and performance.

Wednesday’s featured speaker will be Colonel Michael McGurk, U.S. Army (RET).  Colonel McGurk served in the U.S. Army for 26 years and is a recipient of the Bronze Star for his service in Baghdad. After retiring from active duty, he continued his service to our country as a civilian within the Department of Defense. Colonel McGurk is the current Director of Research for the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training at TRADOC in Fort Eustis, VA. In this role, he is the lead for the U.S. Army in developing and fielding the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). He directs the test implementation and standards for the entire Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve, across the globe. The technical sessions on Wednesday will focus on the metrics used to assess human systems and the cognitive processing associated with complex military systems.

As a 501(c)(3) corporate and individual membership association, NDIA engages thoughtful and innovative leaders to exchange ideas, information, and capabilities that lead to the development of the best policies, practices, products, and technologies to ensure the safety and security of our nation. NDIA’s membership embodies the full spectrum of corporate, government, academic, and individual stakeholders who form a vigorous, responsive, and collaborative community in support of defense and national security. For more than 100 years, NDIA and its predecessor organizations have been at the heart of the mission by dedicating their time, expertise, and energy to ensuring our warfighters have the best training, equipment, and support.

For more information and to register for the Human Systems Division’s annual meeting, please visit:

Post Author
Jim McCarthy is Vice President, Instructional Systems at Sonalysts, Inc. and Chair of NDIA’s Human Systems Division