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Look who's talking -- or not: MSU examines how teams work with other teams


Scientists who are helping to build the a nuclear research facility at Michigan State University are the focus of a study that looks at teamwork. 

The construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams -- or F-RIB -- will take thousands of people.

The National Science Foundation kicked in about a million dollars for a study to see how well the teams communicate and work with other teams.

MSU Professor John Hollenbeck is one of the leaders of the study.

He says they'll use electronic badges with GPS to monitor interactions.

"We can capture who people are talking to, how long they talk," Hollenbeck says. "We can't record conversations, obviously, but it does indicate who is talking more. It can register voice intensity."

Hollenbeck says the badges show that people often over- or underestimate their interaction with others.

"It allows us to know if you or I are talking to each other, and coming into contact. Or we can put bases in  rooms, so if five or six people came into a conference room, it would trip that off."

Hollenbeck says the badges won't record conversations, but will show how closely various teams are -- or are NOT -- working together.

The F-RIB facility will research the origins of stars and the universe.

It's slated for completion in 2021, pending federal approval.