DEA4700/6700 Applied ergonomics methods

Semester: 2018—19 Spring
Credit: 3 units for DEA 4700 | 4 units for DEA 6700
Lecture room: 151 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall (to be confirmed)
Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 13:30—14:40 (to be confirmed)
Course website: http://mdtl.human.cornell.edu

Instructor: Jay Yoon, PhD
Email: jy846[at]cornell.edu

Teaching assistant: To be confirmed
Office: 3427 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Office hour: Friday 09:00 and 11:00 by appointment

Syllabus download (PDF file)

Course description1

This course focuses on the practices of ergonomics that make products2  more efficient, easier, more pleasurable, and happier to use, optimizing the quality of physical, cognitive, behavioral, and affective aspect of human-product relationships. The course covers a set of ergonomics methods and techniques, and their applications to the design and analysis of products, product-service-systems, and built-environments. Students will learn key concepts of ergonomics issues in relation to safety, productivity, functionality, and wellness in product use and develop an understanding of how the capabilities and (situated) constraints of human beings can be systematically considered in the development of products.

Learning objectives

  • To develop knowledge of the main concepts of ergonomics including human capabilities/limitations and how they would be incorporated into designed systems
  • To develop the practical skills to identify, analyze, and solve ergonomics problems of designed systems

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of ergonomics issues and relevant terminologies with respect to theories, processes, and practices.
  • A repertoire of skills associated with ergonomics assessment methods and analytical techniques.
  • An ability to select and deploy appropriate ergonomics methodologies and to articulate ergonomics issues qualitatively and quantitatively.
  • An ability to analyze the unmet needs and expectations of users, formulate informed ergonomic solutions, and select appropriate resources for designing with the users in mind.

Course delivery and learning modes

The course delivery of DEA 4700/6700 consists of a combination of several education activities, including lectures, tutorials, fieldwork, in-class project work, student seminars, inter- and intra-group discussions, reflections, quizzes, and project presentations. These different types of learning activities will be coordinated and adjusted based on the topic and goal of each session (30 sessions in total) and the course progress. In addition to the regular sessions, two guest lectures will take place to complement the learning experience. The course contents are outlined in the section of course contents and schedule.

Apart from the sessions for presentations and guest lectures, each session includes two (or three) class readings that are crucial for students to get familiar with the session’s topic. The chosen reading materials are a curated compilation of topic-specific journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, web articles, and booklets. All students are expected to read the chosen reading materials, which will be distributed in a digital format via the course website.

Two group projects for DEA 4700 students (three projects for DEA 6700 students) will be conducted. Each project entails practices of (1) analyzing ergonomics issues associated with a particular design context by means of the learned design methods and tools and (2) generating design solutions that are to be conceptualized and tested through iterative prototyping. The ergonomics methods and tools covered in class will equip the students with the ability to plan, execute, and communicate their work. Generally speaking, the first, second, and third projects will focus on designing a comfortable product to use, a pleasurable product to use, and a new ergonomics design tool respectively. The details of the project setup are described in the section of assessment and grading.

A series of seminars will take place where the students delivers mini-lectures and stimulates peer learnings. The seminar topics will be assigned to project groups, each covering two topics. The topic allocation will follow as soon as the project groups are formed.

There is a total of four formative course reflections throughout the semester, through which the course delivery will be moderated and improved. Students will provide the instructor and teaching assistant with constructive feedback with respect to the appropriateness and effectiveness of the course topics, ways of the course delivery and the instructor’s support, teaching materials, team dynamics, time management, schedule, etc. The reflections will be facilitated in the form of an anonymous survey and open-discussion. Upon collection and analysis of the feedback, students will be informed of the results and the way forward.

  1. The current version of the syllabus is subject to revision (last updated: October 12, 2018). Revisions will be announced and distributed via the course website.
  2. ‘Product’ represents a continuum of different design solutions that encompass multiple manifestations and scales, e.g., user interface, interior, service, product, training program, and facility planning.