Adonis Diaries

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Article #19, April 16, 2005

“Could one general course in Human Factors make a dent in a career behavior?”

Allow me to state the contents of the four parts of my course materials.

Part one contains an overview, human systems design and modeling, designing for people, human error, accidents and safety, communicating the Human Factors message, human limits and differences, sensing capabilities and limitations, the body and performance, body size, muscular work, nervous control of movements and cognitive processing and performance.

Part two comprises the chapters on improving work efficiency, heavy work, handling loads, lifting, and design of workstations, hand tool design and biomechanics.

Part three is about physical and social environments, noise, vibration, ergonomic principle of lighting, temperature regulation, indoor climate, occupational heat stress, occupational stress, inspection, shift work and the age factor.

Part four covers Human Factors in system design, human-machine system, display and controls, code design, data collection, speech communication, product liability engineering, the engineer as an expert witness, Human Factors and the automobile and human-computer interface.  That’s it!

Throughout the semester I hammer on the main criteria of what Human Factors engineers should constantly consider in their design: mainly, to first target the end user, ease of use of the interface, error free design, acceptability, fitting the capabilities of users, limited training needs, comfortable workstation for extended duration of working habits, safety usage, safety behavior and healthy environment.

This course is not about objects, characteristics of materials, quantity produced or speed in manufacturing processes.

This course is focused on the end users because most systems are designed for target users and operated by end users.

Throughout the semester the perennial question happens to squeeze itself among the exams’ questions: “How would you like to define the Human Factors discipline; what are the most important practical sections that could readily be applied in your engineering discipline and how your own understanding of this subject can alter your behavior when you secure a job?”

Mind you that I am not asking them what the Human Factors professionals would like them to define this discipline but what they have actually assimilated and might make the appropriate information or methods an intrinsic part of their knowledge.

There was an optional course offered, but unfortunately not on a consistent basis, which is called “Risk assessment and Occupational Safety and Health”.

This course covered the safety regulations, laws and standards that private workplaces and institutions have to follow and abide by them.

I used this course as an excellent medium to set the tone and objectives of the Human Factors discipline but the School of Architecture and Engineering revised their optional courses offering to substitute Reliability Engineering instead. 

In the “risk assessments and occupational safety” course I introduced such topics of human errors in operational systems and the corresponding interfaces, the risks and consequences of committing these errors and the remedies in redesign, management and organizational direct concerns and involvement in reducing injuries and unsafe behavior in the workplaces and procedures were very appropriate as an introduction to the purposes of Human Factors course.

These topics allowed me to focus on other issues in the one Human Factors course and substantially reduced the course materials.

But this important optional course was alas dropped from the curriculum but not yet officially.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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