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Virtuous Reality Presented to the Australasian Association of Engineering Education Conference 2001 Yvonne Toft Prue Howard David Jorgensen.

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Presentation on theme: "Virtuous Reality Presented to the Australasian Association of Engineering Education Conference 2001 Yvonne Toft Prue Howard David Jorgensen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Virtuous Reality Presented to the Australasian Association of Engineering Education Conference 2001 Yvonne Toft Prue Howard David Jorgensen

2 “The classic of all design deficiencies which have come to our attention was a combination safety shower and eyewash constructed at a northern missile site. In order to operate the eyewash, it was necessary for a man, who might already be blinded by acid, to put his head in the eyewash bowl and then turn on the water valve with his right foot. The only problem was that the foot-operated valve was about four feet to his rear and higher than his waist. As an additional feature, if a man did happen to hit the valve, he got a full shower from overhead as well as getting his eye washed out. However, the whole problem became academic in winter because the whole system froze up.” Anonymous, 1959

3 Background Need to develop graduates with attributes and abilities previously not core (IEAust review) –Ability to work in multi-disciplinary teams –Utilisation of a design systems approach –Understanding of social, cultural and ethical responsibilities

4 Requirements Engineers need to consider not only specified technical needs of a system, but also user: –Attitudes –Abilities –Capacity –Expectations –Understanding To achieve this, engineers need to incorporate human factors in the design process

5 Ergonomics (or Human Factors) “…scientific discipline concerned with interactions among humans and other elements of a system in carrying out a purposeful activity. Ergonomics aims to improve human wellbeing and overall system performance by optimising human-system compatibility. Human-system interaction design considerations include physical, cognitive, social, organisational and environmental factors.”

6 Do engineers have knowledge about the human component of their system? Literature suggests not! human error major causal factor 80 - 90 percent accidents (multiple studies) 2 out of 3 in Australia (Feyer & Williamson 1991, Williamson & Feyer 1990) high rate operator related to design error (Rasmussen & Pedersen 1984, Reason 1990) active errors and latent errors (Rasmussen & Pedersen 1994)

7 “Catch 22” of human supervisory control New technologies -> new tasks –operators becoming increasingly remote –operator - knowledge based reasoning powers for system emergencies –more opaque -> not knowing happening / can do –operators considered unreliable / inefficient “Catch 22” (Reason after Bainbridge 1987) – designers errors significant contribution to accidents & events, the same designer who seeks to eliminate humans still leaves operator to do tasks which the designer cannot automate, most successful automated systems with rare need for manual intervention need greatest investment in training – task alien -> drilling / training but unpredictable -> active errors

8 Potential to have an impact on every human “Automation” is the execution by a machine agent of a function that was previously carried out by a human” (Parasuraman & Riley 1997) – medical technology – banking – automobiles – aviation

9 Should ergonomic principles be an integral part of engineering design? “…unless a systematic analysis of equipment is made involving people experienced in the environment of its intended use, the probability of foreseeable risks being identified is low.” Dwight 1991 Consequence... Designers & other stakeholders open to litigation Exposure to risk of injury through latent design errors This is not sustainable!!

10 National Occupational Health & Safety Commission Development learning package for engineers to gain a greater understanding of their role in safety (1990) Safe Design project (2000) “…design professional associations need to identify and define the key competencies which should be included in the curriculum of undergraduate courses to cover the area of safe design”

11 Not more red tape … Engineers already do safety to death!! What else? –safety an important consideration but certainly not the only reason for considering human-system interaction –quantitative evidence of benefits in usability, efficiency and productivity –win / win situation, greater user satisfaction and productivity gains

12 Would engineers accept the inclusion of ergonomic principles in undergraduate engineering education? Cross sectional survey of members AaeE Aims: to determine the attitude of professional engineering educators in Australasia toward ergonomic principles in engineering practice; to determine if the intensity of the attitude response was related to previous exposure to ergonomic training; and to ascertain if engineering educators would support the inclusion of ergonomic principles in undergraduate engineering curriculum.

13 Key survey findings Positive attitude toward the major principles of ergonomics in their own professional practice Intensity of positive attitude was greater if exposed to previous formal (or informal) ergonomic training Ergonomics not systematically included in undergraduate engineering programs at present Over 80% of participants affirmed that they thought it should be included in undergraduate engineering curriculum Majority respondents did not believe that engineering educators had the skills / knowledge needed to teach ergonomic principles themselves

14 Plus there is more... Literature supported that engineering is experiencing a paradigm shift globally toward a more holistic approach Engineers will need to have an enhanced understanding of the societal context of their work Authors argue culture change required, a move from technical rationality to social responsibility “…the courage to break with one’s engineering paradigm as required and to operate pragmatically and unscientifically in the public world rather than theoretically and scientifically in the special world of engineering”

15 IE Aust Competency Standards Latest IE Aust competency standards for design reflect these changes But... evidence suggests that little exists in current curriculum of engineering design courses which would develop an understanding of user interaction with systems designers are not typical users and frequently their clients are not typical users either...leads to a disparity in what is perceived as ‘designing for users’.

16 CQU model for integration of ergonomic principles Action Research Project 1st cycle - raising awareness through guest lectures 2nd cycle - two teams working together on same project with different outcomes 3rd cycle - integrated course with shared outcomes

17 Model implementation Mechanical Systems Design (3rd year, BET) Human Factors (3rd year, BOHS) Share 50% common project common module common video (teaching team introducing project brief) shared facilitation of teams (not by lecturer discipline) flexible delivery pre selected teams (3-4 per team) shared outcome

18 Project Brief To design a rock-climbing frame to be used by climbers who have disabilities. –The disability was defined as paraplegia, and specifically the climbers had use of their body from the waist up –The context of use would be Adventure Based Learning (an irregular activity used specifically to build self esteem and confidence)

19 Project objectives To develop team work skills that will build confidence and make you a more effective team member in projects in which you will be involved To develop a detailed design of a system that will meet the problem definition that the team has identified, that is sound from both a technical and human factors perspective. As this requires knowledge of both mechanical engineering design and ergonomics, this will require a team approach and collaborative learning to achieve the objective. To provide basic awareness of the other discipline and its link to your own

20 Assessment Wk 3 Team contract (NG) Wk 6 Project concept proposal (10%) Mid term team evaluation (NG) Wk 14 Reflection on teamwork (Essay & Journal - 20%) Final project documentation (20%) Throughout term discipline specific activities (50%)

21 Student learning ergonomic students learnt about the engineering design process, they learnt about feasibility, about materials and costing - that this system needed to be made and the complexity of considerations required engineering students learnt that people interact with the system at all stages, a richer understanding of the context of the use and understood how a system could be a better product with the user in mind from the concept stage. They had beginning understandings of humans as people bringing their individual characteristics to the system, not just as another specification to be considered confidence in their communication increased and take on alternative roles

22 Our learning Advantage to be able to draw on well established project protocols from engineering and the experience of developing successful flexible learning packages from OHS Students are people and interacted within our system, their fears and concerns about the process were their reality and needed to be acknowledged Interdisciplinary teams can be developed at distance but attention to logistical detail was paramount to the success Confident leadership and role modeling from the facilitation team was critical We had developed strong, effective teams who were fiercely loyal to each other and wanting respect of each other

23 Where to next? Web based learning community for the engineering and ergonomics students Development of a learning package for engineering educators to help them facilitate an understanding of the human component in engineering system design within their own classes


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