Alumni Spotlight: Arthur Fisk '78

Arthur Fisk is one of many interesting and successful people who got their start at The Ohio State University.  Having worked in a factory right out of high school, Fisk initially attended the Mansfield branch of Ohio State before transferring to the main campus in the late ‘70s.  He recalls that Ohio State was an open admissions school back then, and has grown much more competitive over the years.  Fisk, a psychology major, reminisces, “I had a great experience even though at that time I think there were probably 70,000 students on main campus.”

Arthur Fisk

He attributes this mostly to the honors program and the fact that the faculty within the psychology department was very dedicated to undergraduate students (as it still is today, encouraging research and internships as early as freshman year).  Fisk remarks that despite the overwhelmingly huge number of students he was among, attending OSU was a “great personal experience."

Fisk went on to get his PhD at the University of Illinois in 1982.  He jokingly insists, “We were still writing on stone tablets back then.”  His degree was in experimental psychology with an emphasis on what is now known as the (somewhat uncommon) field of engineering psychology.  Right out of graduate school, he received a job working for AT&T.  He then went on to join the University of South Carolina faculty, and finally ended up becoming a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he has been funded by the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Of course, any psychology major would attest to the fact that within the extensive field, there are one or two subjects that each person finds most fascinating.  For Arthur Fisk, this area is aging and cognition, which he describes as his passion.  Particularly, he has taken interest in aging and high technology design, which helps give older adults choices about where they want to live as they age.  Fisk’s wife, also on the faculty at Georgia Institute of Technology, was one of the originators of the first “aware house,” aptly named because of its impressive computing power.  The aware house “learns” about the residents- information such as medication and diet- and teaches them to use complex medical devices that they might be sent home with.  Currently, a lot is being done with human/robot interaction; robots are beginning to be used for home-based tasks with increasing frequency as the technology becomes more advanced.

In addition to his rather intriguing work with aging and cognition, Fisk has served as a president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society as well as president of the American Psychological Association’s division of applied experimental and engineering ecologists.  His impressive resume does not end there; he has also been the journal editor of Human Factors, which, not surprisingly, is one of the premier journals of the field of human factors.

Someone who has accomplished so much after graduating from The Ohio State University is naturally a source of wisdom for current students who will hopefully follow in similar footsteps and be met with equal success.  When asked for one piece of advice for young OSU students, Fisk provided these parting words: “Take advantage of everything Ohio State has to offer.  It is a very large place, but with that come many opportunities.  Find something you have a passion for and follow it.”

Perhaps this generation is too young to joke about writing on stone tablets, but Fisk’s advice- as well as his exemplary life story- remains timeless.