Design for Usability

Course Number: ENGRG 7530
Course Name: Design for Usability (Online)
Course Description:    This course explores the ergonomic aspects of usability within the product design, work design, and manufacturing or service environment. Ergonomic principles which apply to the design of physical work as well as the tools and products of production will be investigated. The impact of cognitive demands of the user will be investigated for applicability to the design of products and processes. The macro ergonomic aspects of the built environment necessary for inclusive design will be discussed with respect to minimizing operational error and maximizing safety for a wide range of expected users.
Prerequisites:    None
Level: Graduate
Credits: 3
Format: Online
Program: Master of Science in Engineering

Registration Instructions

NOTE: The information below is representative of the course and is subject to change.  The specific details of the course will be available in the Desire2Learn course instance for the course in which a student registers.

Additional Information

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to

  • Understand and explain the anthropometric requirements for human comfort and safety in design of physical work and the workstation.
  • Communicate both orally and in writing the goals and applications of universal design using standard business English.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the challenges and some strategies for adapting the physical environment to accommodate workers with special needs.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of work design to reduce the cognitive demands on the worker.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the difference between accommodation in design and universal design as these relate to both the work and home environments.
  • Understand the relative merits of universal design compared to design for accommodation.
  • Analyze a design or proposed design for acceptability relative to universal design applications.

Unit Descriptions
Course Organization and Assignment Descriptions

Unit 1: Physical Ergonomics

This module covers, at a very high level, the use of anthropometric data to design workstations or articles to better fit the expected user. The expected benefits and costs of this approach are discussed using the context of workplace design as an example. The general process of design using anthropometric data is explored.

You will be introduced to the general design process and some design principles along with the situations in which that principle should be applied to design of a particular product or process.

Unit 2: Cognitive Ergonomics

This module covers the gap left after designing the physical environment. The importance of consideration of cognitive workload is discussed within the context of both work and consumer product design. Because these are so critical in computer-based systems which are pervasive in society, these principles of the mind's operation will be explored within the context of user interface.

You will be introduced to the basic guidelines for design of an interface to reduce user error and required training and, subsequently, increase safety in the use of a particular product or process.

Unit 3: Universal Design

This module covers the concepts of universal design. Building on the concepts of design for the physical being and recognizing the cognitive capabilities of the user, the consideration of design will be extended beyond the expected population and accommodation to comply with ADA. Universal design concepts will be explored within the context of the built environment and with application to the larger community as well as the work environment.

You will be introduced to the universal design process and some design principles along with the situations in which that principle should be applied to design of a particular product or process.

Grading Criteria for Activities

Assignment Percentage
Individual Assignments (6) 30%
Project 15%
Exams (2) 45%
Discussions (5) 10%
Total: 100%


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