Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Human Factors in engineering

New semester, new approach to teaching this complex course of Human Factors in engineering?

Posted on October 26, 2008 (and written in April 6, 2006. Article #42 )

Usually, over 60 students enroll in my class, and the administration refused to split my course into 2 classes to maximize “profit”.

In retaliation, this semester only ten students were allowed to enrolled for my class; one is a computer engineer finishing his degree and the remaining are industrial engineers.  As a reminder, this course is required for Industrial engineers IE

The other engineering disciplines managed to open up new elective courses for each one of them, and were trying to market them at the expense of the wishes of many students who wanted to take my course and their petitions were denied.

With this reduced class number, I had to capitalize on the advantages of smaller classes, once the shock is under control.  

This semester, methods applied in human factors engineering are the focus: Having the previous semester in the body of varied knowledge in the course materials might encourage my class to appreciate the efforts and time invested by the pool of human factors researchers and professionals to make available practical design guidelines for the other engineering professions.

Whereas in the previous semesters I shun away from exposing my class to new methods, except teaching them explicitly the concept of controlled experimentations, like the differences among dependent, independent and controlled variables.

I endeavored to correct their misunderstanding, thinking that there was an abundance of knowledge to assimilate for a meager semester in the previous semesters, I boldly changed direction in my teaching approach by investing more time on exposing and explaining the various methods that human factors might be applying in their profession.  

The first assignment was using excel to compare 40 methods used in human factors, industrial engineering, industrial psychology, and designers of intelligent machines.  

This assignment was a version of article #14, about the taxonomy of methods, from 20 articles that I wrote the previous years and offered them as an introduction to the course, in addition to the course materials.

The students were supposed to select five categories from more than the dozen ways to classifying methods such as definition, purpose, applications, inputs, processes, procedures, output/product, mathematical requirements, disciplines teaching them, advantages, disadvantages, sources/links, connections with other methods, and comments.

I expected that, as engineers, they would logically select for the columns applications, input, procedure, output, and comments because they are what define a method. But somehow, they opted for applications, procedures, advantages, disadvantages, and comments mainly because it is how the internet offer information.  

After 3 students submitted their assignment on time I handed them over 40 summary sheets for the 16 methods used to analyzing a system or a mission, at least 2 sheets for each of 16 methods, one sheet on the purpose, input, procedure, and output/product of the method and the other sheets as examples of what the output is expected to look for presentation.

I then asked the less performing students to concentrate on only the 16 methods for their assignment and most of them did not submit this assignment even two months later.

So far I used up six sessions for methods or related topics such as the methods applied in the process of analyzing systems’ performance, psychophysical procedures, the fundamentals of controlled experimentation methods, human factors performance criteria, and what human factors “measure/data” in their experiments. 

As for the body of knowledge I extract a few facts from experiments and asked them to participate in providing me with the rationales or processes that might explain these facts.

For example, if data show that females on average are two third the strength of males then what could be the underlying causes for that discovery?  

Could that fact be explained by the length of the muscles, the cross section thickness of the muscles, the number of muscle fibers, or the length of the corresponding bones?

Facts are entertaining but I figured that they are big boys to be constantly entertained while shovelful of money is being spent for their university education.

Facts are entertaining but there have to come a time when these big boys stop and wonder at the brain power, Herculean patience, and hard work behind these amusing sessions.

The next assignment was to observe the business of the main family’s bread earner, note down the minute tasks of his typical day work, learn about the business by attempting to generate detailed answers from a questionnaire they have to develop based on a set of investigative query and problems related to human factors performance criteria in the assignment sheet…

And to report back what are the routine and daily tasks that enabled the students to join a university.  

Three students worked with their fathers’ in summer times and enjoyed the assignment; the remaining students could not shake off their 8th grade habits, wrote the questionnaire, mailed it, and waited for the answers.  

I was expecting that the students would apply the methodology they learned in analyzing systems such as activity, decision, and task analyses… but the good stuff was not forthcoming.

To encourage them to cater to the business that they might inherit, I assigned them a lecture project that would generate the requisite analyses with a clear objective of focusing on near-accidents, foreseeable errors, safety of the workers and health conditions in the workplace.

So far, the products of the two quizzes were complete failures. Funny, although most of the questions in the second quiz were from the same chapter sources as the first quiz, it is amazing how ill prepared are the students for assimilating or focusing on the essential ideas, concepts, and methods.

With a third of the semester over, I can points to only two students who are delivering serious investment in time, hard work, and excitement and are shooting for a deserved grade of A.

Undergraduate Students’ feedback for current semester method

Posted by: adonis49 on: November 2, 2008

Article #24, (written on June 11, 2005. Teaching at LAU Byblos university, Lebanon)

After many unsuccessful attempts to generate students’ feedback on my teaching methods and how this course might affect their perspective and behavior in approaching the remaining core courses, before graduation and in their career I decided to include two questions in the final exam that I expected would shed some insight.

The required question, which I told class two weeks ahead of the final exam that it will be part of the exam, directed the students to focus first on the diligent A and B students and then to target the C and D students in their teaching methods in case they might have to teach a course in Human Factors in engineering.

The third part was to restructure the course materials and which chapters should have to be developed further. 

Now, any logical person would expect the students to have prepared detailed answers to these questions since it is an open book and open notes exam, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any shred of evidence that any student did prepare a written answer. 

You would also expect students to be lenient in teaching this course but their reaction was even harsher.

Students feedbacks required that drop quizzes be delivered on a weekly basis after students hand in a chapter summary, that case studies be debated in class, a few lab workshops and many more assignments. 

A student suggested attaching a CD copy of the course material so that they would not have to carry books.

They suggested that summarizing chapters as assignments might force students to read, a suggestion that I did try in a previous semester but was discouraged because the endeavor ended up with students heavily copying from one another, and I having to carry home heavy loads and wasting more time flipping through useless pages.

I think that frequent and consistent drop quizzes are an excellent tool although it will cost me dear time for grading and from teaching time.

Actually, I didn’t expect even the most diligent students to read the whole course materials. 

I provided hints and suggestions on the best way to assimilate the material that would help them navigate through the content of the course. 

I encouraged them to browse through the whole course contents and focus on the graphs, tables and figures and try to comprehend the subject matters by analyzing and using them as facts in their analyses.

May be you would have a better assessment of the students’ harsh requirements, if given the opportunity to teaching, after I expose the load they shouldered throughout the semester.

Besides the mid-term and final exams, each student had to submit two assignments, two lengthy lab projects; three extensive take home exams that covered most of the chapters, three quizzes for 45 minutes each, two presentations to class of graphs, tables and figures, reading revised articles that I assigned them and a take home exam on a research paper concerning hand tool design. 

Not a single student was exposed to a research paper before, and it was a pretty tough awakening for the students planning for higher education. (Actually, the administration promised to sign in for peered-reviewed research articles from the Human Factors society, but never delivered)

I think that the students lacked an appreciation of the time allocated to managing a class that prohibits many well meaning teaching plans. 

In many instances, I had to read in class the assignments and take home exams questions and provide directions because I noticed that the students tended to dig these assignments up from their folders before a long lapse of time. 

The time allocated for students’ presentation takes up more than a third of the teaching hour and fielding questions takes the best of the second third 

There are no lab credit hours for this course and still students believe that they can set aside free hours for doing lab projects necessary for assimilating this course.

The alternatives restructuring of the course materials did not differ much from mine.

The optional question for bonus points asked the students to select 3 topics of interest to them, provide catchy titles and explain in two paragraphs for each topic how it might apply and improve their careers. 

Although I have assigned to the students articles that I wrote as an introduction to the course materials only one student offered complete sentence titles; the rest just named the topics. 

It appears that their preferred topics were: risk and errors, designing interfaces, work environmental factors that might affect performance, human-computer interface and hand tool design. 

A couple students interested in medical technology engineering wanted more emphasis on the biology aspects of the body structure. 

Only one student mentioned the cognitive preference for this single course.

Many students signed petitions to re-include the elective course of “risk assessment and occupational safety and health” for the fall semester but the administration refused to consider these petitions two years in a row.

Why?  I still did not receive any feedback either written or verbal. 

It appears that the meaning of asking students to deliver petitions for any demand is less a matter for taking their cases seriously but to erect roadblocks and present a procedural façade to secure grants as a professional institution.

Actually, students’ apathy toward the effectiveness of the student council is strikingly telling.

I had to harangue my class to grab and snatch their rights by persistent pressure on the administration for the demands in their petitions.

A course material of 1000 pages?  Why so much material for a single course in the first place?

Posted on November 2, 2008

Assimilating a new discipline or new methods in a single course is too strong a term. 

You indeed can scarcely describe the process of comprehending a topic and assimilating it, even within a specialized discipline, without overshooting the mark.

Now that the title might have captured your attention, let me describe my teaching methods that may permit students to cover an overview of such a vast discipline as Human Factors in one semester course.

I encourage my students to learn and read as “trained engineers ” should, smartly.

They are to first locate the graphs, tables and figures in a chapter (the dependent, independent and controlled variables) , try to understand the topic by concentrating their attention on these tools of learning, and then read the preceding and following sections if they fail to comprehend the graphs, tables and figure on their own merit.

You should all know that if a picture is worth a thousand words then a graph, table or a figure might be worth ten thousands words.

I assign a graph, table or a figure to students to hand copy it, write a short presentation, and then copy it on a transparency sheet to present to class.

After the presentation of a unique graph the student will field a few questions from class and then I take over and explain and expand on the content of the transparency.  

This method of training students to learn through these learning tools and giving them an opportunity to appreciate them, as engineers should, I am able to cover most of the course material throughout the semester.

Another method is by handing out two take home exams in addition to the regular exams.  Take home exams are handed out three weeks in advance of the due dates and cover questions from all chapters that need to be read thoroughly and supplemented from other sources for substantiation. 

Students are encouraged to take very seriously these take home assignments not only because they weight heavily in points but also because a few of the exam questions will be selected from the take home assignment. 

Assignments and lab projects are other methods for revisiting the course materials and other sources.

The quizzes and regular exams are open books, open notes and whatever printouts from the internet students are willing to bring to class. 

I even encouraged students to use an efficient cheat sheets technique that might convey the message effectively based on the fact that most of the chapters are interconnected. 

The main subjects such as designing interfaces, displays and controls, occupational safety and health, environmental and organizational factors in the workplace, designing workstations, capabilities and limitations of human users, sensing and perception capacities, and physical and cognitive methods have links to many other chapters in addition to the main one. 

Thus, if a student selects a subject as the central item he would be able to link different sections of other chapters to it by writing down the page numbers of the source section.  

These cheat sheets could be excellent learning methods to answer open book exams without the need to fumble through hundreds of pages for each question.

A different technique to assimilating course materials is through questions. 

The catch is that asking questions on assignments, lab projects or take home exams have to be submitted in writing. 

The written question has to follow a certain process:

First, stating in complete sentences the subject matter;

Second explaining how the question was understood and

the last step is expressing the problems with links to the chapters they had to read in order to comprehend the subject.

I am still waiting for a single written question and it might be for the best because it eliminates a host of redundant questions that are asked out of laziness, failing to carefully read the whole question sheet or shirking from diligently doing their best to browse through the course materials.

An exercise: taxonomy of methods

Posted on: June 10, 2009

Article #14 in Human Factors

I am going to let you have a hand at classifying methods by providing a list of various methods that could be used in Industrial engineering, Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Industrial Psychology.

This first list of methods is organized in the sequence used to analyzing part of a system or a mission;

The second list is not necessarily randomized, though thrown in without much order; otherwise it will not be an excellent exercise.

First, let us agree that a method is a procedure or a set of step by step process that our forerunners of geniuses and scholars have tested, found it good, agreed on it on consensus basis and offered it for you to use for the benefit of progress and science.

Many of you will still try hard to find short cuts to anything, including methods, for the petty argument that the best criterion to discriminating among clever people is who waste time on methods and who are nerds.

Actually, the main reason I don’t try to teach many new methods in this course (Human Factors in Engineering) is that students might smack run into a real occupational stress, which they are Not immune of, especially that methods in human factors are complex and time consuming.

Here is this famous list of a few methods and you are to decide which ones are still in the conceptual phases and which have been “operationalized“.

The first list contains the following methods:

Operational analysis, activity analysis, critical incidents, function flow, decision/action, action/information analyses, functional allocation, task, fault tree, failure modes and effects analyses, timeline, link analyses, simulation, controlled experimentation,  operational sequence analysis, and workload assessment.

The second list is constituted of methods that human factors are trained to utilize if need be such as:

Verbal protocol, neural network, utility theory, preference judgments, psycho-physical methods, operational research, prototyping, information theory, cost/benefit methods, various statistical modeling packages, and expert systems.

Just wait, let me resume.

There are those that are intrinsic to artificial intelligence methodology such as:

Fuzzy logic, robotics, discrimination nets, pattern matching, knowledge representation, frames, schemata, semantic network, relational databases, searching methods, zero-sum games theory, logical reasoning methods, probabilistic reasoning, learning methods, natural language understanding, image formation and acquisition, connectedness, cellular logic, problem solving techniques, means-end analysis, geometric reasoning system, algebraic reasoning system.

If your education is multidisciplinary you may catalog the above methods according to specialty disciplines such as:

Artificial intelligence, robotics, econometrics, marketing, human factors, industrial engineering, other engineering majors, psychology or mathematics.

The most logical grouping is along the purpose, input, process/procedure, and output/product of the method. Otherwise, it would be impossible to define and understand any method.

Methods could be used to analyze systems, provide heuristic data about human performance, make predictions, generate subjective data, discover the cause and effects of the main factors, or evaluate the human-machine performance of products or systems.

The inputs could be qualitative or quantitative such as declarative data, categorical, or numerical and generated from structured observations, records, interviews, questionnaires, computer generated or outputs from prior methods.

The outputs could be point data, behavioral trends, graphical in nature, context specific, generic, or reduction in alternatives.

The process could be a creative graphical or pictorial model, logical hierarchy or in network alternative, operational, empirical, informal, or systematic.

You may also group these methods according to their mathematical branches such as algebraic, probabilistic, or geometric.

You may collect them as to their deterministic, statistical sampling methods and probabilistic characters.

You may differentiate the methods as belonging to categorical, ordinal, discrete or continuous measurements.

You may wish to investigate the methods as parametric, non parametric, distribution free population or normally distributed.

You may separate them on their representation forms such as verbal, graphical, pictorial, or in table.

You may discriminate them on heuristic, observational, or experimental scientific values.

You may bundle these methods on qualitative or quantitative values.

You may as well separate them on their historical values or modern techniques based on newer technologies.

You may select them as to their state of the art methods such as ancient methods that new information and new paradigms have refuted their validity or recently developed.

You may define the methods as those digitally or analytically amenable for solving problems.

You may choose to draw several lists of those methods that are economically sounds, esoteric, or just plainly fuzzy sounding.

You may opt to differentiate these methods on requiring high level of mathematical reasoning that are out of your capability and those that can be comprehended through persistent efforts.

You could as well sort them according to which ones fit nicely into the courses that you have already taken, but failed to recollect that they were indeed methods worth acquiring for your career.

You may use any of these taxonomies to answer an optional exam question with no guarantees that you might get a substantial grade.

It would be interesting to collect statistics on how often these methods are being used, by whom, for what rational and by which line of business and by which universities.

It would be interesting to translate these methods into Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, or Russian.

What this blog is About?

Updated “About” (August 2 /2020)

I started this blog on September 17, 2008.

This blog is about: “Who I was, what I did, what did I think, how did I grew…”

This blog is about: “Who I am, what I am doing, how I think, what are my positions, politically, economically, fairness and equitability in political systems”

I dabbed in all kinds of jobs, you name it, from the “lowest” in order to pay my fees and lodging for studies in universities, to the higher kinds of jobs. Apparently, none of the jobs gave me this feeling that “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life”: I could Not discover any kind of retaining passions to last in any professional job.

The total number of articles published so far has reached 9,300 posts and the total number of hits has crossed two million views and the average daily hits is over 600 per day. The number of steady followers increased to 550

You have choices among 45 categories to navigate around, included my autobiography and edited as new facts and memories surge.  I added the sub-category “Travel/Excursion

I got a new life of publishing what I had  expressed in years of writing for myself.  I now have to consider my target audience of readers who patronize my blog:  There is a dividing line between writing and publishing, because responsibility to others comes in publishing.

Recently, I added a new category “Daydream Projects“:  Just imagine this gigantic brainstorm networking sessions if a small fraction of mankind decides to publish their daydreaming projects with plenty of details. Wouldn’t daydreaming be considered a very productive endeavors?

I also added the categories “Time for Outrage” and Pets

I post on average of 10 articles per week (articles of mine, links from various social platforms after editing and adding my comments). I figured out that every new post generates around 100 hits within a year, and keeps increasing fast.

You may enjoy the category poems (poems of mine, and translated poems from Arabic and French into English). I had posted my autobiography, two novels, short stories, and plenty of detailed book reviews.

I feel blessed confronted with many obstacles:  I was for a long time penniless but  kept publishing, and was associated with the most abject financial condition I have experienced… I am graced of feeling the same zest in publishing almost everyday.

I do read and write every day in three languages English, French, and Arabic.  I read books, small and large, old and current, classical and common, biased and “balanced”. And spend 3 hours per day reading and taking notes in Libraries

I read dailies and their editorials. I read magazines, serious ones and tabloids. I used to keep up to date with the weekly French “Courrier International“, bi-weekly, and monthly issues, including  the French monthly “Le Monde Diplomatique“, “Science et Vie”…when they were available.

I uncover nuggets in almost all my readings and then report my notes and comments after elaboration, analysis, and exercising my individual reflection.

Lately, I have been publishing my notes and comments on Facebook and Twitter under the title Tidbits.

The category “Diary” contains the articles I wrote before I got into blogging in 2008.

Recently a few friends decided to post their memories on FB and I shared them on my blog under the title “Mon cher Ado”

My posts are No cut and paste gimmicks, and they lack pictures unless provided by a link, images and videos: I don’t have the tools for recommended visual inputs, and I have no patience for navigating the net.

Whatever I receive, I edit it, comment on it and highlight the main points.

I understand that the task of publishing carries responsibility to the general public and I have to do my due diligence in reading a lot, reflecting, and exposing various views and perspectives before extending my current convictions.

I have been writing for my own pleasure for years, such as short poems, diaries, and got into introspection in order to get in touch with my emotions and my models on life, universe, and a sustainable earth within my history growth context.  WordPress.com made it easy to taking the drastic plunge into communicating with the public.

It is a daily communion that starts by receiving comments before offering opinions, and do reply to developed opinions and comments.

I am reminded that life exercises its cyclical rights and I wish your ebbing period would not last longer than necessary, and that it would not affect your optimism.

I wish that you have a support system to remind you that life is wonderful, it is beautiful, and it is exciting.  There is a tomorrow but surely not better than today, since you are still alive!

I realized that publishing electronically is not considered by many political institutions as serious matter, since many do not navigate fast communication mediums on a wide scale yet; as if people still read hard copy manuscripts or dailies!

If you are interested in reading biographies of people “Not famous” or “Not glamorous”, then you may also enjoy reading my auto-biography titled “Introspection of a confused man”.

Anyway, most of my categories that are Not related to politics, history, religions, sciences, engineering, health, or book reviews are about myself.

It appears that my Book Reviews category is the most favored so far; closely trailed by political articles, social articles, sex/seduction categories, and religious topics.

I earned a PhD degree in Industrial/Human Factors/ system design engineering. That was in 1990 from the USA  and a couple of Masters in Physics and Operation Research, but I refused to practice until recently when I decided to teach in universities and had this lovely opportunity to write over 50 engineering articles published in the category “Professional articles“, “Human Factors in Engineering” and lately in the category “Engineering/research”.

I realized that I love best to read and disseminate what I write, and wordpress.com was the ideal platform to initiate people to publishing and expressing their opinions without any kinds of censorship.

I wish the publishers of articles and bloggers to keep in mind the dividing line between writing for comprehending and reflecting on their own positions and feelings, and just publishing.

I read and write daily, a lot, and hit libraries and follow up on news and editorials and feel serious on disseminating what I read.  I even summarize controversial books and offer my opinions ; yes, I love to be controversial, otherwise I might just rot.

A sample of a translated poem:

Your blue sea eyes

On the deck of your blue eyes is raining

Audible vibrating lights.

On the port of your blue eyes,

From a tiny open window,

A view of faraway birds swarming,

Searching for yet undiscovered islands.

On the deck of your blue eyes

Summer snow is falling.

I am a kid jumping over rocks

Deeply inhaling the sea wind

And then returns like a weary bird.

On the port of your blue eyes

I dream of oceans and navigation.

If I were a seafarer

If anyone lent me a boat

I would surely ease up my boat closer

To your blue sea eyes

Every sundown.

Note 1: This poem is an abridged free translation from Arabic of the famous late Syrian poet Nizar Kabbani.

Note 2: You may reach me on adonisbouh@gmail.com

Architects: Design for the ear

Noise goes up, heart rate goes up.

Because of poor acoustics, students in classrooms miss 50% of what their teachers say and patients in hospitals have trouble sleeping because they continually feel stressed.

Julian Treasure sounds a call to action for designers to pay attention to the “invisible architecture” of sound.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference in 2012, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Julian Treasure · Sound consultant studies sound and advises businesses on how best to use it.
09:29

It’s time to start designing for the ears.

Note 1: In Industrial engineering, there is a section called Human Factors in engineering. It deals with health and safety in workplaces, and product designs. Vision and acoustics are major issues, besides posture (Ergonomics). I was exposed to all these issues in my graduate studies and did a few experiments on degradation of health and safety in noisy environment.

Note 2: All architects, interior designers, urban planners, product designers must be exposed to the health and safety issues in the environment they are professionals in.

“Did I choose to be a social designer?” And “Did the will and opportunity collide?”
My niece Joanna Choukeir Hojeily posted on FB:
“Did I choose to be a social designer, did it just happen, or did the will and opportunity collide?
I will be reflecting on how I got to doing what I do now; a practice and industry that didn’t exist 10 years ago when I first started out as a designer. Creating Futures Symposium this coming Tuesday at the ICA in London.
Did I choose to be a social designer, did it just happen, or did the will and opportunity collide?  I will be reflecting on how I got to doing what I do now; a practice and industry that didn't exist 10 years ago when I first started out as a designer. Creating Futures Symposium this coming Tuesday at the ICA in London.
I replied:
“Your field existed since 1942 when designers tried to minimize the frequent pilot accidents in the air war with Germany. It was called industrial psychology, then industrial engineering, ergonomics, Human Factors in Engineering
The advent of fast computing, personal computing and fast graphics facilities shifted the trend to social graphic engineering or design…
It is the varied opportunities in developed countries that upgraded your passion for “social graphic design” projects: Giving priority to the health, safety and ease of use of products and services…”
I have posted about 50 articles on that topic in the category “Human Factors in Engineering”
I have in a previous article, in a short sentence that may have gone unnoticed, mentioned that the main objective of Human Factors in Engineering is designing interfaces between complex systems and targeted end users.
Modern days are an accumulation of very complex systems that societies can no longer live without and have to suffer their consequences in health, safety, comfort, risks or fatal accidents. 
Modern days rely on communications systems, on health care, on educational, on information, on transportation, on energy, on financial, on tourism, on diplomatic, and even on political systems.
Usually, there are purposes for establishing any system and the money generated could only be the consequences of satisfying human specific demands that a developed standard of living requires, or are encouraged through advertisements, or are initiated by new laws to regulating a society.
This modern world, more than in any previous centuries, is plagued with complex systems that are automated in many portions with no human understanding of how a system functions or can be repaired or be redesigned except a few rare professional experts.
These vast and very costly systems are created, assembled, maintained and run by different specialized personnel who have no serious interconnections among one another.
Every section of any system requires an interface with another section so that the end user can communicate with another section without any obligation to know or understand the details of the other section.
These interfaces have to be designed to be used with minimal skills, knowledge or special training.
Consumers require easy to use objects, safe objects, error free and accident free objects.
Consumers need to access these complex systems quickly, cheaply, without the requirement for extensive training or intermediate personnel to doing business or making the objects function according to their idiosyncrasies.
The Human Factors engineering discipline should be the application of the body of knowledge, information and facts about human abilities, limitations, (physical, mental and psychological) and characteristics to the design of tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environments for safe, comfortable and effective human use.
The Human Factors engineering discipline is expected to direct its research toward practical design purposes and offer data that can be readily applied by engineers from different discipline”.
Here is a brief story of how I went about finishing my PhD dissertation.
My adviser had a business in forensic of accidents in workplace, safety consultancy and was focused on the lack of safety signs and pictorials since it was the rage of suing in consumer liability cases.
He proposed that I work on safety signs for my proposal and I didn’t feel hot about it: I sensed this topic was at best good enough for a Master’s thesis. The effects of safety signs were very short term, unless the system includes safety behaviors as an important part in the proper functioning of the corporation.
I recall that I worked for a year on a PhD proposal related to graphics of safety signs and pictorials. There were no personal computers and no graphic facilities. I toiled by hand.
My idea was to gather the used and adopted safety pictorials in many fields and try a taxonomy of elemental parts that designers could assemble in their jobs.  This proposal was killed by the team of advisers within half an hour of the session.
I tried another proposal related to cognitive engineering and it was not accepted. I was hooked to the cognitive field but my adviser would have none to do with cognition for my dissertation: he was not interested in such a field and it was not in his line of business.
To be fair, Dr. Purswell was more than patient with me and let me write two proposals related to cognition that both were turned down within a year.
I spent two years on idiosyncratic topics that my main advisor was not comfortable with, and I had no support system to guide me.
Two years earlier, my advisor told me: “Get on with my idea of a proposal. Get you degree and move on. At your age I had already three children...”
Two years earlier, one of my classmate obeyed the same advisor to the word and finished his dissertation (no experiment was conducted) and was accepted at a university as assistant professor, while I was toiling uselessly.
Finally, Dr. Purswell had to deliver an ultimatum or he would have no choice but to suspend my scholarships.
I was ordered to stop all part-time jobs. I obeyed and within a semester I wrote the proposal, designed the experiment, finished setting up the fictitious chemical lab and carried out several intelligence testing protocols just to divert the true objective from the over 120 “subjects”.
The subjects were mostly first year Psychology students because they are required to submit to experiments for credit-hours. That semester was hectic but a lot of fun.
The next semester was the worst of all semesters because I had to input thousands of data and read hundreds of pages of computer statistical results and the gruesome task of writing up my dissertation.
I had Dr. Schlegel in my advisory team and he forced me to use a specialized word processing program, simply because the print was professional and versatile. The problem was that no one could interpret the error in the program and fix it when I got stuck except him. I occasionally had to wait a couple of weeks to meet with him in order to untangle stupid word processing glitches.
By the time I submitted the final written copy I was totally depressed and I had erased from my mind any academic prospect.
To make matters worse, the US was experiencing a depressed market and universities had put a moratorium on hiring professors.
What a foreign PhD graduate with the wrong nationality and in a bad job market is to do to survive?
I asked for what I deserve. My temperament predicted this outcome.
I don’t complain in real life, but the blog is supposed to write about the oddities in life.

Updated “About” (Oct. 29/2013)

I started this blog on September 17, 2008.  The total number of articles published has reached 3,800 posts and the total number of hits is  over 290,000, and the daily hits have crossed the 400 mark.

You have choices among 42 categories to navigate around. Recently, on September 12, I added a new category “Daydream Projects“:  Just imagine this gigantic brainstorm networking sessions if a small fraction of mankind decides to publish their daydreaming projects with plenty of details. Wouldn’t daydreaming be considered a very productive endeavors?

I post on average of 10 new articles per week and I have been posting a list of articles published each week with the proper ready links for viewing.  I figured out that every new post generates 75 hits within a year, and keeps increasing fast.

You may enjoy the category poems (poems of mine, and translated ones from Arabic or French). I had posted my autobiography, two novels, short stories, and plenty of detailed book reviews.

Last year was the most glorious year in my life.

Penniless but publishing, and associated with the most abject financial condition I have experienced… I am graced of feeling the same zest in publishing almost everyday, kind of 2 posts per day, just not to overwhelm the reader with more reading.

I do read and write in three languages English, French, and Arabic.  I read books, small and large, old and current, classical and common, biased and “balanced”.  I read dailies and their editorials. I read magazines, serious ones and tabloids, the weekly French “Courrier International“, bi-weekly, and monthly issues, including  the French monthly “Le Monde Diplomatique“, “Science et Vie”

I uncover nuggets in almost all my readings and then report themes after elaboration, analysis, and exercising my individual reflection.

My posts are no cut and paste gimmicks, and they lack pictures, images and videos: I don’t have the tools for recommended visual inputs, and I have no patience for navigating the net. You may start accessing my Home page and then select one of the categories of your interest and navigate from there.  I added the category “Time for Outrage“.

I understand that the task of publishing carries responsibility to the general public and I have to do my due diligence in reading a lot, reflecting, and exposing various views and perspectives before extending my current convictions.

I have been writing for my own pleasure for years, such as short poems, diaries, and attempts to introspection in order to get in touch with my emotions and my models on life, universe, and a sustainable earth within my history growth context.  WordPress.com made it easy to taking the drastic plunge into communicating with the public.

It is a daily communion that starts by receiving comments before offering opinions, and do reply to developed opinions and comments.  I am reminded that life exercises its cyclical rights and I wish your ebbing period would not last longer than necessary, and that it would not affect your optimism.

I wish that you have a support system to remind you that life is wonderful, it is beautiful, and it is exciting.  There is a tomorrow but surely not better than today, since you are still alive!

I realized that publishing electronically is not considered by many political institutions as serious matter, since many do not navigate fast communication mediums on a wide scale yet; as if people read hard copy manuscripts or dailies!  Well, I got a new life of publishing what I had  expressed in years of writing for myself.  I now have to consider my target audience of readers who patronize my blog:  There is a dividing line between writing and publishing, because responsibility to others comes in publishing.

If you are interested in reading biographies of people “Not famous” or “Not glamorous”, then you may also enjoy reading my auto-biography titled “Introspection of a confused man”.

Anyway, most of my categories that are not related to politics, history, religions, sciences, engineering, health, or book reviews are about myself.   It appears that my Book Reviews category is the most favored so far; closely trailed by sex/seduction categories, and religious topics.

I earned a PhD degree in Industrial/Human Factors/ system design engineering, over 20 years ago from the USA but I refused to practice until recently when I decided to teach in universities and had this lovely opportunity to write over 50 engineering articles published in the category “Professional articles“, “Human Factors in Engineering” and lately in the category “Engineering/research”.

I realized that I love best to read and disseminate what I wrote, and wordpress.com was the ideal platform to initiating people to publishing and expressing their opinions without any kinds of censorship.  I wish the publishers of articles and bloggers to keep in mind the dividing line between writing for comprehending and reflecting on their own positions and feelings, and just publishing.

I read and write daily, a lot, and hit libraries and follow up on news and editorials and feel serious on disseminating what I read.  I even summarize controversial books and offer my opinions ; yes, I love to be controversial, otherwise I might just rot.

A sample of a translated poem:

Your blue sea eyes

On the deck of your blue eyes is raining

Audible vibrating lights.

On the port of your blue eyes,

From a tiny open window,

A view of faraway birds swarming,

Searching for yet undiscovered islands.

On the deck of your blue eyes

Summer snow is falling.

I am a kid jumping over rocks

Deeply inhaling the sea wind

And then returns like a weary bird.

On the port of your blue eyes

I dream of oceans and navigation.

If I were a sea farer

If anyone lent me a boat

I would surely ease up my boat closer

To your blue sea eyes

Every sundown.

Note: This poem is an abridged free translation from Arabic of the famous late Syrian poet Nizar Kabbani.

Do the design of seating arrangements promote Inspiration?

Do you think Apple, Google, Pixar, and other giants can be wrong in their seating arrangements?

Do you feel that these arrangement:

  • make the spaces appear homely to promote a relaxed environment, which leads to a mind receptive to unrelated stimuli.
  • integrate multiple types of seating to encourage long conversations.
  • are designed to maximize random encounters, which maximises exposure to random stimuli.

Google studies show that this arrangement was responsible for innovations like Gmail and Street View, and has boosted creativity by 25%.

A few samples of how Google and Pixar designed their seating arrangements.
(Pixar photographs by Sharon Risedorph)

how Google and Pixar design their seating arrangements

Do you think the seating arrangements were adopted to satisfy the best environment to increase inspiration?

As best selling author Robert Greene in ‘Mastery’ gave  the two steps that invite inspiration:

  1. relax: you relax without focusing directly on the problem. you take walks or attend unrelated activities. the tension disappears and you can easily accept incoming stimuli. you invite unexpected ideas no matter how irrational, then explore where they lead. you note down these ideas, especially when you’re most relaxed; while dozing off to sleep or waking up.
  2. widen your search: our minds are limited and cannot explore all possibilities. instead we rely on random stimulation, which leads to inspiration. to maximize this, you widen your search into other fields. most importantly you’ll want to trust this process.
  3. Trust that the mind, when exposed to a multitude of unrelated ideas, will make the most unheard-of associations; associations often labeled as genius.

When we focus on a project, it’s like facing a tiger: Our attention becomes so focused and narrow, and we grow tense, and the mind reduces the amount of stimuli down to only what’s vital.  We fail to notice all the inspiring possibilities around us.

Armed with this knowledge, both designers and hospitality concept-owners can benefit.  Concept-owners can either throw a tiger in front of their designers and create urgency, or they can give them the space to ignore ‘the need for certainty‘, to step into the unknown, and to invite inspiration. each has its pros and cons. the best judge is you.

Designs of seat arrangement and sitting implements are one of the oldest endeavor in human development.

You see people assembled in circles around a fire, students seated in rows, or semi-circles…

Tables in shapes that are intended to provide the necessary connotation of how discussions and dialogue will proceed…

One of the important and oldest field in Human Factors in engineering is the design of workplaces. The beginning was to design mass production facilities, and then it focused attention on the safety of workplaces, and the health of the workers and employees.

It goes without saying that if body comfort is not cared for, all the seating arrangements will not offer the proper environment for inspiration and communication.

Experiment on seats and seating arrangements must simultaneously factor in the body variability and the psychological  well being, the safety and health (physically and mentally).

That’s what make experiments on seats and seating arrangement very difficult and time consuming, since they involve people’s variability and differences.

In a previous article, I proposed that lower echelon employees should enjoy private spaces, while the higher echelon should be working in an open space for all to communicate with easily.

https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/the-door-is-always-open-decide-to-enter/

 

 

Tips on: Reducing stress at work

Do you think that High workloads, physically and emotionally demanding work, uncertainty about the future, the temporary nature of jobs, lack of talents, growing older, competition with new graduate students with versatile abilities and technical expertise…. can lead to stress and therefore to poor mental wellbeing?

Joanna and Toby’s of  posted their Point of View on Nov.22, 2012 under “Reducing stress at work: A few simple tips

We’re all likely to experience job-related stress at some point in our lives.

But wellbeing is fundamental to everything: how we think, feel and function through the courses of our lives.

It is a precious individual and collective resource that needs to be protected and enhanced.

Around the world, a growing body of evidence is showing that people with lower levels of stress and higher levels of mental wellbeing are more creative, more productive and take less time off work.

They have better resistance to colds, feel pain less acutely and even live longer.

Additionally, there’s a compelling organisational case for better mental health: Annual costs of mental ill-health to a UK organisation with 1,000 employees are £835,355 (NICE, 2009).

However, the Department of Health’s mental health strategy highlights that each pound spent on mental health promotion at work generates net savings of £10 within one year.

Each single pound spent on early intervention for depression at work generates net savings of £5.

The 7th of November was the National Stress Awareness Day.

This inspired us to think about and share a little bit of what we learned on a project we carried out in London, where we shadowed nurses and admin staff to examine the issues that impact on their stress levels and ultimately, their mental wellbeing.

We found out that there are some practical, low-cost measures that managers can take that could have a significant impact on the team’s wellbeing. Here are a few:

1. Acknowledge that sadness is not a weakness: those we spoke to tended to suppress their emotions. However, allowing yourself the release of crying or talking about stressful moments increases your ability to deal with them

2. Recognize your team’s achievements: many felt that they rarely received praise or thanks for work done well or delivered in the face of difficult circumstances

3. Link rewards to emotional needs rather than organisational targets: for example, you could encourage your team to monthly nominate a colleague who has been particularly supportive or has dealt well with a difficult incident – let them decide the metrics. The person with the most votes could win a reward linked to wellbeing, such as a fitness class

4. Facilitate informal peer-to-peer support: opportunities to get together and chat with colleagues following a stressful or difficult event or day were valued more than compulsory supervision

5. Protect time for training and development and share opportunities with your team: most of those we spoke to wanted to develop their skills and progress their careers, but felt that opportunities were not communicated and continuing personal development time often slipped

6. Create opportunities for your team to get to know colleagues from other teams, specialisms and bands: ‘meet and greets’ were felt to be good for morale, making staff, particularly in frontline and junior positions, more likely to be treated as human beings, rather than just functionaries

7. Assess the physical ability of each member of staff individually: physical resilience varies, with some members of staff able to withstand long periods on their feet or physically demanding work better than others; but injuries and fatigue are detrimental to wellbeing (end of article)

So far so good. The wellness attributes in workplaces are what Human Factors in Engineering are concerned with: The safety and health of workers, physically, mentally and emotionally.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2021
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