I Explore Industrial Neurodiversity: Quality & Innovation in Cognitive Production Systems

Nicole is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and Editor-Elect of Software Quality Professional journal.

Her research finds ways to increase our ability to satisfy stated and implied needs now (quality) and in the future (innovation) in connected environments where people, machines, and processes may all have autonomous cognitive capabilities enhanced or mediated by technology (AI+IoT+VR+AR+DR) - especially through structured design methodologies. She is particularly interested in how autistic cognitive differences can inform design and catalyze innovation. This requires a blend of disciplinary perspectives that include quality management, smart manufacturing, neuroergonomics, software engineering, and data science.

She is ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) #11952 and ASQ Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) #9583. Since 2009, she has introduced nearly 2000 students to quality and process improvement using basic quality tools and Six Sigma problem solving using the R Statistical Software.


  • ISAT 211 - Production & Operations Management
  • ISAT 251 - Topics in Statistics & Data Science
  • ISAT 331 - Cyber-Physical Cities and Industries
  • ISAT 341 - Simulation & Modeling
  • ISAT 344 - Intelligent Systems
  • ISAT 432 - Materials Selection in Product Design
  • ISAT 480/434 - Advanced Industrial Analytics
  • ISAT 480 - Weather Analytics & Industrial Meteorology
APRIL 2015, 536 pp

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CUrRENT PROJECTS (2016-2017)

What I'm working on right now:

Production Systems (PS) Sector - We're developing a new exploratory and interdisciplinary curriculum in ISAT to help students navigate modern production and operations environments that are becoming increasingly driven by Big Data, networked supply chains, and intelligent systems in the Internet of (macro, bio, and nano) Things (IoT). The program has sustainability, social responsibility, and quality management at its core, and addresses topics from all four Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) pillars of manufacturing engineering: 1) materials and manufacturing processes, 2) product and assembly engineering, 3) manufacturing systems and operations, and 4) quality and manufacturing competitiveness. All students will be prepared to sit for three certification exams: the American Society for Quality (ASQ) Certified Quality Improvement Associate (CQIA), the ASQ Certified Quality Process Analyst (CQPA), and the Association of Technology Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Belts. Our first students start Fall 2016.

Design for Neurodiversity (DfN*)Autistic people experience the world in a fundamentally different way than neurotypical people, and in many ways, we think (and act) more like computers than humans. Whereas affective computing seeks to detect and identify affective-cognitive states and help computers become more emotionally intelligent, Design for Neurodiversity explores how designers, product engineers, and quality managers can create products, processes, and environments that provide robust sensory and cognitive support for autistic people. Because the neurodiversity movement considers autism to be a normal variation of human cognitive processes, this work can help designers and developers create physical and cyber-physical systems that more universally satisfy stakeholders' stated and implied (current and future) needs. (Here's a well curated list of all the autism and autism research conferences.)

Weather Analytics - I'm also a meteorologist who has lots of experience optimizing business processes based on the assessment and modeling of weather and climate for business decision-making. Based on a course that I've delivered since 2011 (ISAT 480 - Numerical Weather Prediction and Industrial Meteorology) my collaborator Jim Marusak and I are developing a curriculum to help data scientists and quality managers intelligently find and use weather and climate data, including forecast models, to enhance business decision-making and develop intelligent systems and Internet of Things (IoT) things that are responsive to weather.