Overview Of Lab Facilities
To aid in the educational and research programs in Ergonomics and related fields, the Industrial Engineering Department maintains several extensive laboratories:
- The General Ergonomics and Human Performance Laboratory is used for both undergraduate and graduate experimentation and demonstrations. It includes equipment for performance assessment (reaction time, performance time, learning, ... etc.).
- The Biomechanics Laboratory includes anthropometric calipers, strength measurement devices, skin fold calipers, an anthropometric chair, hand tool investigation and evaluation apparatus, body segment parameter determination equipment, and a push-pull dynamometer. In addition to the maximum isometric strength measurement capability, the Biomechanics Laboratory also provides the capability of measuring dynamic strength (concentric and eccentric contractions using a Cybex II isokinetic dynamometer). The Biomechanics Laboratory also includes a lifting facility for the determination of lifting capacity of males and females, and interchangeable force plates. High speed 16mm motion picture cameras are available for research efforts. Biomechanical file analysis is facilitated through the use of Science Accessories Corp. digitizer with the sonic pen or cursor that is inputted into the IBM computer system. An instrumented treadmill is used to monitor ground reaction forces in consecutive steps. A 6-camera real time motion analysis system has been added to monitor human 3D motion more efficiently. In addition, a virtual reality (VR) racetrack is under construction. The VR system provides various realistic hallway scenes as a subject walks along an oval racetrack. The track is 4 feet wide and 70 feet in circumference sheltered by a fall arresting robot.
- The Work Physiology Laboratory includes bicycle ergometers, a programmable Collins treadmill to provide a wide range of loading profiles, Beckman Oxygen Analyzer, sampling gasometers, and readout equipment in the form of Beckman recorders, Sanborn recorders, and Physiographs. In addition, the laboratory includes a Beckman Metabolic Measurement Cart that can be used for the measurement of oxygen consumption/carbon dioxide production and basic pulmonary functions and an Ambulatory monitoring Ind. Oxylog for field oxygen consumption analysis. The work physiology laboratory also includes equipment for measuring blood pressure manually or automatically and several pieces of equipment for measuring, recording and quantifying EMG signals and recording and quantifying EMG signals and recording EKG and heart rate during rest and work. Heart rate, body temperature, and other physiological parameters can be recorded from an ambulatory subject using an AMI Medilog.
- The Human Factors Interface Simulation Laboratory is a new capability and is currently being added to the department's extensive human factors facilities. The main feature of the laboratory is the Tele-robotics and Tele-operations system (TTS). The TTS is based on a Silicon Graphics high-speed computer image generator. Specifically, a Silicon Graphics 4D-85, which provides 16.7 Mhz, 13 MIPS, 400K vector generation and 90K Polygon generation, necessary for the real-time dynamic simulation of complex color, high image quality, and out-the-window visual scenes simultaneous with real-time updates of end-effector parameters on experimenter specified control/display suites.
In addition to these special laboratories where Ergonomics investigations are performed, there are other laboratories used for other programs within Industrial Engineering. These include the Manufacturing Science Laboratory and the Metrology Laboratory. The department also maintains supporting facilities in the form of metal, wood, and electronic workshops where instrumentation for research and teaching can be manufactured and serviced. A photographic facility is also maintained by the department in support of research and teaching activities.
What is Ergonomics?
The word ergonomics comes from the Greek ergo (work) and nomos (rules, law). It can be simply described as the science that fits the job or activity to the person who is doing the job or activity. That may seem like a common sense statement, and in many ways it is. People have been practicing ergonomics ever since the first person fashioned a tool or devised a better method to do something that was previously, slow, difficult or painful to accomplish. In a very real sense, all people (not just designers and engineers) practice ergonomics to some extent.
For instance, the famous engineer and philosopher Leonardo Davinci could easily be considered an early ergonomics practitioner. His detailed study of the human body aided him in the design of machines that were to be used by people.
The development of ergonomics as a special effort has arisen from the expanding knowledge about the complexity of human capabilities and limitations and the increasing need to ensure the safe, efficient, interaction of people with products and environments. Stated simply, ergonomics or human factors is focused on designing products and systems for human use. Inherent in this design process is the goal to design systems which optimize system performance, safety, and user satisfaction. Individuals who offer their services in the field of ergonomics are typically referred to as Professional Ergonomists or Human Factors Professionals. If you are interested in learning more about professional certification in ergonomics. Texas Tech has a long tradition of educating students who go on to become leaders in the ergonomics field. Contact the Industrial Engineering department for more information regarding the career paths of Texas Tech alumni.