Student participates in summer internship

Adam Armijo

by Randy Gonzales
Adam Armijo, a Pueblo, Colo., graduate student in the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences at Fort Hays State University, was selected for a 10-week research internship with the Department of Homeland Security this summer in Concord, Mass., to study human decision making about navigation.

Armijo worked with the risk and decision analysis team on three projects. One project focused on modeling decisions about which route people will take when given the option between two competing routes. When in an unfamiliar city, many people will use maps or GPS to find the optimal route to a destination. However, when left to their own brains, humans are not nearly as efficient at finding the best route.

"Even though we like to think we are logical, we in fact aren't," Armijo said. "We make a lot of mistakes when making decisions when they are very similar in nature."

Armijo's research looked at heuristics -- quick and simple rules of thumb -- as a method people might use in making navigation decisions. For example, a person often chooses a route that starts with a straight path as opposed to a route that starts with a turn, even if the route with the turn will get the person to a destination in a shorter amount of time.

This was Armijo's first internship. He hopes to finish his master's in experimental psychology in May 2016, then go on to a Ph.D. Armijo would like to eventually teach or do research. The internship will be a big benefit, he said.

"I think it allowed me to get some great connections," Armijo said. "I'll be working on a few publications with them."

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