ERAU Ph.D. Graduates Advance Video Game, Missile Systems, & Aviation Fields

By on May 13, 2018 in WNDB News

Daytona Beach, FL – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) Daytona Beach Campus says three recent doctoral graduates’ dissertations have advanced the fields of video game design, missile systems, and aviation.

Shayn Savage Davidson’s dissertation, A Multi-Dimensional Model of Enjoyment: Development and Validation of an Enjoyment Scale, recently earned the graduate a Ph.D. in Human Factors. The main focus of Davidson’s dissertation was to find a way to quantify enjoyment. By conducting research, collecting expert input, coordinating thousands of surveys, and analyzing data, Davidson created the ENJOY Scale, a multi-dimensional survey tool designed to measure enjoyment.

The survey consists of 25 questions that assess how the individual taking the survey feels about any given activity. According to Davidson, the scale targets the five main areas of enjoyment: pleasurable feelings and sensations (Pleasure), feeling connected to other people (Relatedness), feeling capable (Competence), being challenged and feeling like you are improving (Challenge/Improvement), and being pulled into the activity (Engagement).

Davidson plans to pursue a career in market research for the video game industry. According to ERAU, video game developers are actively seeking more information on what brings gamers enjoyment so they can better design games and increase usage. Davidson believes the scale he developed can be used in the video game industry and across any industries such as the aviation and medical fields.

“Enjoyment is positively related to energy and negatively related to stress. If I enjoy my work, I’m not only going to have more energy, but I’m going to perform better and will be less stressed,” said Davidson.

Along with the creation of the survey and scale, Davidson researched what the most enjoyable activities are. According to his research, hobbies, events, and entertainment scored the highest on his enjoyment scale while jobs and travel scored the lowest.

Derek Hoffman’s dissertation, Nonlinear Control of Underactuated and Constrained Systems, earned the graduate a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics. Hoffman’s research focused on the modeling and control of unmanned aerial vehicles, space robots, and spacecraft. The research also explored how to better simulation accuracy and the efficiency and use of control design.

During his graduate studies, Hoffman taught and conducted research in the Department of Physical Sciences and in the Control Design Lab in the College of Arts and Sciences. He leaves ERAU to pursue a career with Raytheon Missile Systems in Arizona. The company is an industry leader in defense, civil government, and cybersecurity solutions.

“My passion for controls engineering stems from an earnest desire to innovate aerospace industries, attempting to solve challenges that are still present today,” said Hoffman.

“The main advantage that industry could use from this research is a reduced computational burden for simulations,” said Hoffman.

Bob Thomas’ dissertation, Effect of Active Learning on Instrument Rated Pilots’ Knowledge and Self-Efficacy, earned the graduate a Ph.D. in Aviation. The dissertation explored the validity and potential of utilizing personal computer scenarios and simulations for instrument currency.

62 pilots participated in the research by completing at-home training. Participants read FAA material and used a PC-based flight simulation program to fly several instrument approaches and to make in-flight decisions. Thomas’ research revealed that at-home training using active learning was an effective way to refresh instrument-rated pilots who are not instrument-current.

Thomas has earned a master’s degree in Aeronautics from ERAU, an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, and a Flight Instructor Certificate. Thomas has been at the Daytona Beach Campus since 2007 when he started working as an instructor pilot in the Flight Department. He currently supervises 25 of the department’s Aviation Learning Center tutors and sometimes works as a check and flight instructor.

“Having a Ph.D. in Aviation will help me as an assistant professor in the Aeronautical Science Department by giving me a solid research background to conduct and assist in research studies that will benefit aviation and pilot training,” said Thomas.

Photo courtesy jamesrmartin and

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.


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