Yes, and the idea changed my life at age 17 when I stumbled onto a researcher's website. Engineering Psychology uses science to understand people and redesign the world around them. It's a cousin of many fields, including design, neuroscience, architecture, computer science, anthropology, and marketing.
For me, this led to a PhD in Human Factors/Applied Cognitive Psychology at GMU, and follow-up training in project management and data-driven marketing from Stanford and Cornell, respectively.
I made this site hoping to introduce someone else to design research, too.
So what does an Engineering Psychology career look like?
For me, it involved doing aviation safety research under my professors' grants at NASA and FAA, and then at a couple of airlines. This paid for most of my university education.
Then I was hired by Boeing to join their advanced research and development team, helping design easier, safer new autopilots for 7-series commercial jets. I'm probably near the front of the 787 in this launch photo.
A few years later, I moved back to California to work for Google's design team. At first, my work involved small business and enterprise software and I traveled the country meeting our users and helping design better tools for them.
Eventually, I was recruited into X, the company's advanced technologies division. I spent a few years working on self-driving cars, and then helped the incubator expand.
I now lead X's design and user research department across a dizzying array of projects, from smart contact lenses to balloon-based internet, to airborne wind turbines. All designed to make life better for people.
Okay, how do I learn more?
You want to learn more? Awesome. Here are five links to get you started:
- A Career in Human Factors and Engineering Psychology by the American Psychological Association.
- A list of top universities, from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
- A guide to User Experience from the US government.
- The Interaction Design Association.
- And Core77, a great community of mostly industrial designers.