Human factors/Engineering Psychology

Human Factors/ Engineering Psychology, overlaps with ergonomics and design as well as with several fields within the discipline of psychology. We don’t realise it but almost every aspect of our technology-driven lives is the result of extensive research and experimentation by engineering psychologists. “Engineering psychology operates at the intersection of experimental psychology and human factors by engaging in research that can be best described as ‘practically relevant’. As a science, the field of engineering psychology focuses on understanding the capabilities and limitations of human performance from the perspective of perception, cognition, and movement control.” (http://www.psychology.gatech.edu/graduate/engineering)

There is a rapidly developing relationship between man and machine, with accuracy, speed, safety and usability becoming the cornerstone of all technology. For this reason, industries have realised the importance of engaging engineering psychologists to assist in making designs functional and user-friendly. The scope for employment is vast – from medical facilities to academia, there are numerous environments in which an engineering psychologist may find work.

Herriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, has a full-time M.Sc. program in Human Factors. This is one year program, accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, includes core modules, electives, and a research project. The objective is “to consider the human in systems from a physical, cognitive and organisational perspective.” (http://www.postgraduate.hw.ac.uk/prog/492/)

The School of Engineering at Tufts University also offers an M.Sc. in Human Factors. Students are expected to complete the program within two years, failing which, they may apply for continuation. Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships are also available on a competitive basis. (http://engineering.tufts.edu/me/graduate/msHumanFactors.htm)

Another option for students interested in this branch of psychology is the M.Sc. in Engineering Psychology offered by Georgia Tech School of Psychology (College of Sciences). This degree is accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. It is a two year program which can lead to a Ph.D. for those interested in continuing with their research. The college also has an arrangement for internships both within the school as well as externally. (http://www.psychology.gatech.edu/graduate/engineering)

(Note: You may find that some General Psychology programs include Engineering Psychology as part of the course.)