Human factors engineering

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Applying what is known about human capabilities and limitations to the design of products, processes, systems, and work environments. It can contribute to the design of any system with a human interface, including hardware and software.

The field of Human Factors in Industrial Engineering focuses on the design of tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs and environments for safe, comfortable and effective human involvement and interaction. The field is characterized by the systematic application of knowledge about sensory, perceptual, mental and psychomotor characteristics.

Industrial engineers with a Human Factors background are better able to create designs that take into account human abilities and limitations, both physical and cognitive. Physical applications include the design of working environments that are safe and comfortable taking into consideration typical as well as handicapped physical human characteristics. Cognitive applications take into account the ways humans perceive, understand, and react to stimuli – and work to support safe, efficient, and expedient responses. Designs by Human Factors engineers aim to enhance operational use while simultaneously improving the quality of working life.

Human Factors expertise is desired in industries requiring frequent interactions between humans and systems, such as the transportation, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. Example applications include laying out effective computerized information displays for doctor in operating rooms, designing ways that handicapped individuals can productively operate vehicles, determining mechanisms to keep workers safe in machining operations, and creating software logic to determine if drivers are impaired – and then processes to safely override impaired drivers actions.

Human Factors specialists have extensive knowledge of

  • Human perception and cognition
  • Characteristics of humans
  • Human computer interaction
  • Ergonomics


Human Factors specialists have effective technical skills in

  • Work measurement
  • Job and task design and analysis
  • Modeling and problem-solving
  • Design of experiments
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