Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Engineering Classes - IE 327: Introduction to Work Design

IE 327 is a human factors class offered in my department. It covers both physiological and cognitive work design. Work Design is the practice of design a task to be easier for the person doing it. Industrial engineers use a lot of objective measures like equations or proven graphs and subjective measures like surveys to design an optimal task for a worker. I give this class a 10/10 for forcing me to think and reevaluate how I do things in my life. This year, Scarlett Miller taught the class and I loved it. She is a professor in the engineering college whose research centers on cognitive design. She's also a good advisor to IEs and overall, a really nice person to talk to - even her graduate students tell me that :] (Sorry to rat you guys out.)

Human Factors/Work Design's main function in industrial engineering is to reduce the workmen's compensation costs as well as to make tasks comfortable for the workers. You want to get the optimum amount of work output during the day that doesn't strain the worker or make the worker too lazy either. We also want to reduce fatigue, use of memory and apathy while increasing task satisfaction, output and profit for the company. To see more about human factors and why it is important: click here.

The biggest use of this in daily life is when I do something physical or when I buy new apps on my phone. In physical tasks, there is a best way to keep your body to prevent injury. I always try to lift with my legs now and to make sure the seat I sit in allows me to type at a 90 degree angle. Little things like this reduce my fatigue in the long run and make me more comfortable when studying for 5-6 hours at a time. Here are some great diagrams of things you can do to fatigue yourself less while sitting and while standing.

When selecting an new app to use for my phone, I look for the most aesthetically pleasing interface (it's gotta be pretty) as well as something that has large buttons, fonts and works with everything else I have on my phone. A brilliant man named Jacob Nielsen came up with 10 usability heuristics that are used in industry today and if the app doesn't fit most if not all of them, I usually won't buy it. Check them out! Here's a fun video if you don't like to read. Overall, ergonomics is one of the most important things I've learned at school. Taking care of your body is really important and these things can help preserve your muscles, eyesight and sanity.

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