Whatever they design and build, engineers must take into account the Human Factor. In other words, how their end product will ultimately interact with humans. Or how to optimize a product's overall performance in a setting fraught with the sometimes inconsistent whims of the human mind and human behaviors.
To optimize the human factor, ergonomists are often called in at various stages of a product's development. This is where the "ergo people" evaluate the tasks and environments in which a product is expected to perform in light of the needs, abilities and limitations of humans. Factors taken into account here may be a user's age, sex, personality, physical size and weight, even intelligence.
The goals of human factors engineering vary widely. On a basic level, a product or design should be repeatedly usable and safe. It should make one's tasks or tasks more efficient. Human factors draws on research about human abilities, limitations, behaviors, and processes to design tools, products, and systems. Applying human factors principles leads to designs that are more acceptable, more comfortable, and more effective for accomplishing their given tasks.
Most human factors engineers work in consulting firms, the government or military, medical, and aviation fields. Other areas where human factors engineers work include transportation, manufacturing and telecommunications. Virtually any field that develops interface systems or devices between humans and technology will utilize human factors engineers. Some human factors engineers also work in research and in educational institutions.
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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.