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David Prater
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MS, Fall 2012

Home Dept: Psychology

MS Dissertation title: Impact tactor design and research for creating consequence in virtual military training

MS Advisor(s): Stephen Gilbert

Area of MS research: This thesis presents the design of and testing for a novel haptic device and control system meant to deliver an impacting disincentive that is meant to result in a startling sensation. The haptic device, called a "tactor," is mounted onto a wireless wearable vest, meant to impact the chest or trunk of a user. The vest is meant to be worn in a mixed-reality environment where interaction with other entities may be live virtual or constructive.

Employment upon graduating:
Design Engineer
Haldex Brake Products
Kansas City, MO

Current activity: I am a mechanical design engineer responsible for the design and validation of new pneumatic system products for the heavy truck market, including products such as air dryers and suspension valves

What HCI classes were invaluable to my success?
Art GR 672 (Graphic Design and Human Interaction) and HCI 575 (Computational Perception) were two classes which were invaluable to my success as a graduate student because of their far-reaching scope, allowance for creativity and depth of content. Art GR 672 helped me develop a new perspective for graphic design in terms of less-than-verbal information portrayal. HCI 575 introduced me to a new side of machine learning and artificial intelligence I never would have encountered from a purely mechanical engineering degree set. As a working for professional, I have had an opportunity to apply lessons learned in both of these classes in a professional setting.

Favorite graduate school memory: Perhaps my most interesting memory I have from my time as a graduate student was (virtually) shooting my major professors in a demonstration of my thesis work after defending my thesis. One of my favorite memories from my time as a graduate student was having the opportunity to assist in a week-long Boeing sponsored mixed-reality military training simulator demonstration in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. I was able to make long-lasting relationships with industry professionals and leave a lasting impact on those in charge of the event.

HCI issues that interest me: I am most interested in atypical haptics and mixed reality systems. I expect mixed reality systems to grow in popularity because of their overall allowance for a high level of immersion, low operating costs and lack of dependency on visual stimulants.

A website recommend, and why:
Some of my favorite websites are geared towards products that people have creatively hacked or repurposed, including: and and of course, For electronics projects, I like to browse for what new hardware is readily available.

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