2012 Distinguished Alumni Recognized

Brig. Gen. Arnold M. Gordon-Bray, Dale Carder, Immanuel Barshi, Glenn Chambers

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Immanuel Barshi, International Distinguished Alumni Award

When Immanuel Barshi entered the University of Central Missouri as a freshman, faculty members in the Department of Aviation recognized he was no ordinary student. Because he already had significant flying experience under his belt, Professor John Horine invited him to become a senior flight instructor while completing an individualized Bachelor of Science degree in aviation. His continued thirst for knowledge and heart for service eventually led him to become a leading expert in the field of human systems integration, linguistics, and aviation and space operations.


Barshi is the recipient of the International Distinguished Alumni Award, which was established in 2002. It recognizes the university's distinguished international alumni who attended UCM as international students and have achieved professional distinction, either internationally or nationally and who exemplify the strength of their education at UCM.

A native of Israel, Barshi completed his bachelor's degree in 1987, and went on to also earn a Master of Arts in English degree in 1988 from Central Missouri.

He currently serves as a senior principal investigator in the Human Factors Division, formerly known as the Human Systems Integration Division, at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett, Calif. Barshi's research addresses cognitive issues involved in the skilled performance of astronauts and pilots as well as mission controllers and air traffic controllers, their ability to manage challenging situations, and their vulnerability to error. The results of his work have been implemented in checklist design, operational procedures and training programs in space, aviation, medicine and nuclear facilities.

Barshi has doctoral degrees in linguistics and cognitive psychology and is an author and certified flight instructor with more than 35 years of flight experience.

Following high school, Barshi served for six years in the Israeli military. When he enrolled at UCM at age 30, he was already a seasoned commercial pilot and flight instructor who had lived in several different countries. His unique combination of education and skills prompted NASA to recruit and hire him. Today, his research is reshaping the way commercial flight crews interact with air traffic controllers and automated systems and is being used to modify communication between NASA astronauts and mission control.

For Barshi, the opportunity to study at UCM provided him with lifelong opportunities. Because Barshi arrived at UCM with significant experience in aviation, Horine helped him develop a course of study that fulfilled the requirements for his bachelor's degree, telling him, "Don't ever let school get in the way of your education."

Barshi arrived with a desire to study language and linguistics at the graduate level, first acquiring his undergraduate degree. From his graduate studies, he fondly remembers Guy Griggs, professor emeritus of history, and Tom Gladsky and Mark Johnson, professors emeriti of English, as being among those who helped him develop a program of study that met his needs. He also paid for his schooling as a flight instructor in the Department of Aviation.

"These people had a profound effect on my life," he said. "They offered me leadership and friendship, along with the professional expertise I needed."

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