A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Drop Me a Beat

By Lisa M. Gerry on September 6, 2011

If your area of study is a bit esoteric, what’s the best way to explain what you do to the general public? That was the challenge presented to the Human Factors and Applied Cognition (HFAC) program in the Psychology Department. Their response was to turn it into a rap.

“We decided to do something fun and upbeat while conveying an important message at the same time,” says psychology professor Tyler Shaw, who wrote and performed the tongue-in-cheek rap.

“The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society has really been trying to publicize what we do because it is important to human safety and the like,” says Shaw. “We investigate issues such as the frequency of runway incursions and how to keep people vigilant and alert.”

The society held a national competition to see which university could find the most creative way to explain its work to the layperson. And Mason’s rap, which was produced by psychology doctoral student Ewart deVisser, took first place.

The very funny video has quite a few cameos by department faculty.

“A lot of the people in our department are big names in human factors—they are preeminent scholars in our field,” says Shaw. “When we approached them to do the video, everyone was really eager to be involved.”

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