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Using Computer Simulation To Teach Undergraduate Engineering And Technology Students Ergonomics

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Teaching Strategies in Graphics

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1379.1 - 11.1379.9



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Paper Authors

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Yi-hsiang Chang Purdue University

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Craig Miller Purdue University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Yi-hsiang Chang and Craig L. Miller Department of Computer Graphics Technology Purdue University


In this article, we are presenting a senior level course module on ergonomics that was developed at Purdue University. Instead of lecturing on the basic principles, this course module consisted of two core exercises. The exercises were based on a computer simulation package available on campus. With a two-hour brief of the domain knowledge, students learned how to manipulate the manikin in a virtual environment to accomplish a given task. After the students became familiar with the major functions of the software, various assembly process plans from industry partners were distributed, where the individual students were to model and verify human operations specified in the worksheets. Through the “hands-on” experience and group discussion in a problem-based learning setup, students were exposed to various topics of ergonomics in the workplace. The topics included postures, movements, viewing angles, and mental loads along with possible injures and health concerns. It appeared that the students’ awareness and attitude toward ergonomics had significantly changed after taking this course module. A follow-up study to evaluate this course and investigate its potential contribution to undergraduate engineering and technology education is discussed at the end of the article.


With the advance of information technology, today’s market place has become more competitive than ever. Through the fully-developed supply chains, manufacturers are able to polish their edge by outsourcing part of their original operations. The outsourcing can be to other companies or to other countries with the benefit of lowering their production cost. However, as more and more key components become standardized and interchangeable, the difference between similar products due to technology gradually diminishes. To survive in this micro-profit age, it is not advantageous for a company to solely focus on product quality or functionality. Consumers are paying more attention to product design aspects such as aesthetics or ergonomics, which are more subjective and user-centered. One important example is the Apple Computer’s iPod that was the top thirty

Chang, Y., & Miller, C. (2006, June), Using Computer Simulation To Teach Undergraduate Engineering And Technology Students Ergonomics Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1395

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