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Case Study Based Laboratories For An Undergraduate Human Factors Engineering Curriculum

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.262.1 - 6.262.10

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Victor L. Paquet

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Ann Bisantz

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Section 1526

Case Study Based Laboratories for an Undergraduate Human Factors Engineering Curriculum

Ann M. Bisantz, Victor L. Paquet

Department of Industrial Engineering University at Buffalo, State University of New York Amherst, NY 14020


This paper describes the ongoing implementation and evaluation of a set of design-oriented laboratory exercises for two undergraduate Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) courses, which draw from a case study model. The case material, based on the automotive manufacturing industry, includes the description of the overall manufacturing system, seven multi-period laboratories across the two courses, and computer modules intended to support the design and analysis activities in the laboratories. Over the duration of the project, the courses are being taught using the modified laboratories, and evaluations, including student surveys, grade comparisons, and comparison of test question answers, are being conducted to compare student performance before and after the implementation of the proposed laboratories. Results from completed evaluations are discussed.


Ergonomics (IE 323) and Methods and Measurement (IE 424) are required courses in which undergraduate Industrial Engineering (IE) students learn how to improve human performance through the design of complex systems. IE 323 concentrates on aspects of human information processing, problem solving and decision making, sensory systems processing, communication and human error. IE 424 covers the physical requirements of work, emphasizing the design of work systems that promote worker productivity, health and wellbeing. Appropriate experimental methods are also covered. Both courses have laboratories which require students to apply concepts learned in class. Previously, these sessions consisted of independent activities that had not been designed to fully address open ended engineering design problems. The new case study consists of seven interrelated laboratories conducted over two semesters, to be performed by groups of 3-5 students.

The proposed project integrates laboratory experiences within and across two HFE courses using a manufacturing case study. The laboratories are based on a automotive manufacturing case, developed in cooperation with, and based on, information provided by HFE and safety personnel of a large automotive manufacturing facility (a thermal systems manufacturing plant). The case

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Paquet, V. L., & Bisantz, A. (2001, June), Case Study Based Laboratories For An Undergraduate Human Factors Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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