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DM 817 – Ergonomics

This course provides an overview of ergonomic problems that are addressed in engineering design: including biomechanical, physical and physiological issues. Case studies will range from the design of vehicle cockpits to process control rooms, from industrial manual materials handling tasks to human direct robots, and from domestic tools to biomechanical devices. Specific topics include: anthropometry, work space design, environmental conditions (light, noise, humidity, temperature, motion), physiology, materials handling capacity, gender issues, tool design, product design and structured ergonomic design evaluation techniques.

Course Leader: Tim Bryant, Queen’s Engineering

Course Objectives

The course objective is to extend a student’s working knowledge of engineering and design to include ergonomic principles that encompass the biomechanical, physical and physiological issues that impact on the design and operation of the human-machine interface.


The course is organized around a series of hands-on workshops in order to promote active learning. Given the broad nature of the subject of ergonomics, guest lecturers will include professionals from the fields of engineering psychology, human factors, industrial hygiene and occupational health and safety. Students are encouraged to use problems from their place of work as the subject of their individual assignments

Module 1

Day 1 – Introduction to Ergonomics
  • Anthropometry and arrangement of components
  • Workshop on anthropometry
  • Biomechanics and MSK
  • Workshop on biomechanics
Day 2 – Ergonomics and Product Design
  • Case study on computer workstations
  • Test techniques for a new product
  • Workshop on new product criteria
Day 3 – Biomechanics and Materials Handling
  • Work physiology and manual materials handling
  • NIOSH lifting guidelines and occupational requirements
  • Workshop on manual materials handling
Day 4 – Biomechanics and Product Design
  • Hand biomechanics and tool design
  • Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)
  • Workshop on hand tool design

Module 2

Day 1 – Environmental Conditions
  • Climate and climate control
  • Workshop on climate control case study
  • Light and illumination, lighting control
  • Workshop on illumination control
Day 2 – Sound and Noise Control
  • Sound, noise and vibration
  • Measurement of sound and noise
  • Engineering noise control
  • Workshop on sound evaluation
Day 3 – Human Control of Systems
  • Modelling the human controller
  • Human information processing
  • Supervisory control and automation
  • Workshops on cognitive ergonomics
Day 4 – Design and Product Liability
  • Design and product liability
  • Product liability case studies
  • Designing for safety

Course Evaluation

100% of course mark will be based on assignments.

Recommended Reading

Sanders, M.S. and McCormick. E.J. (1993) Human Factors in Engineering and Design (7th ed.), McGraw-Hill

Biography of Course Leader

Tim Bryant, P.Eng.

Tim Bryant is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s University. His research interests are in the areas of orthotic devices, knee mechanics and ergonomics. He teaches design and ergonomics at the undergraduate level and tissue mechanics at the graduate level.