s and Work Practice
The MER missionís Athena rover showing remote sensing and in-situ instruments
MER mission operations work system
MER Agent Model
Unsynchronized Communication Activities

Dr. Maarten Sierhuis
sierhuis @ sims
OH: 1:00 - 3:00pm
Office: 303B South Hall

Charis Kaskiris
kaskiris @ sims

OH: by appt

Course Meeting Time
Friday 9:00 - 12:00



202 South Hall


 Course Description

This course is an introduction to modeling and simulation of human behavior and work practices of people in organizations. Most methods for modeling organizations focus on the process or functional levels of the work. However, in the past decade social scientists and computer scientists involved in social informatics and human-centered design have argued that, if we want to develop better business processes and usable information systems, we need to understand the 'living work practice' of the people in an organization.

In this course you will learn what 'work practice' is and how it can be observed, modeled and simulated. We will look at how to observe and model organizations at the work practice level for the analysis of business processes and the design of information systems.

The course will start with discussing the theoretical underpinnings. The class readings and lectures will review the literature, but a significant part of the class and its labs will be devoted to learning the Brahms multi-agent modeling language. Brahms is a tool developed at NASA for modeling and simulating organizations and work practices, as well as developing intelligent agent systems.

 Why is this class useful?

This class will give SIMS, CS, and business school students a human-centered perspective on business processes. Understanding how people actually work will enable you to better define requirements for information technology in organizations. It may also serve as a source of ideas, methodology, and tools for understanding existing organizations, designing your own processes, and generating your own projects.

Possible Projects

  • Business modeling of XML-based processes with analytics
  • Model ethnographically observed studies
  • Work practice modeling of a Day in the Life of…
  • Modeling of graphical interfaces as work practice processes
  • Modeling of agents in the wild


INFOSYS 255: Foundations of Software Design or Equivalent knowledge of object-oriented programming.

INFOSYS 272: Qualitative Research Methods for Information Management (can be taken concurrently or consent of instructor)

INFOSYS 211: Group and Organizational Approaches to Information System Use (can be taken concurrently or consent of instructor)

 Course Materials

The reading materials for this course are still being finalized but most likely will consist of a course reader and access to online material. The Brahms multi-agent modeling language and development environment licenses will be provided to class participants.