Why I Became an Ergonomist

Andrew S. Imada, Ph.D., CPE

Why I became an ergonomist

Like most professionals in my era, I came upon this ergonomics indirectly. I was trained in a traditional Industrial/Organizational Psychology program at The Ohio State University and spent a year and half in an equally rigorous program at Bowling Green State University. Wanting to return to California, I accepted a faculty position at USC where I had to teach a core course on human factors in the Human Factors Department. Having had the requisite courses in physiology, job analysis and job design, I felt comfortable teaching this new course.

Valerie Rice, PhD, CPE, OTR/L

FPE asks Valerie Berg Rice, PhD, CPE, OTR/L (Chief of the ARL-Human Research and Engineering Directorate) why and how she became a Human Factors Engineer / Ergonomist?

The short answer is that I saw the need within the health care community for additional training and application in the area of design.

Now for the long answer.  I started my career as an Occupational Therapist and a US Army Officer.  As a military therapist, I was concerned with the physical, cognitive, emotional, and cultural aspects of individuals and individual human performance abilities in returning to a full and active life post injury or illness.  This is crucial for our military and for their families, and fulfilling for a therapist!

H. Harvey Cohen, PhD, CPE

FPE asks H. Harvey Cohen, Ph.D., CPE (founding senior consultant at Error Analysis, Inc.) why he became an ergonomist?

I believe it is safe to say that in past generations, such as mine, few, if any of us started out to become ergonomists!  However, this is changing as both the field (and I for that matter) enters our eighth decade.   

Also changing is the way we impart our message not only to our potential clients, the purchasers of ergonomics expertise, but to future generations of early career persons who might choose ergonomics as a profession.  That is what has drawn me over the years toward interest in developing mentoring initiatives for both students and early career professionals and why I find this activity particularly invigorating in my work with the FPE.

Sheree Gibson, PE, CPE

FPE asks Sheree Gibson, PE, CPE (President of Ergonomics Applications) why she became an ergonomist?

In many ways, I became an ergonomist by “accident”. I graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University and was working for a small forensic consulting firm doing accident reconstructions. In many cases, I noted that the injury had two causes: a design or mechanical failure AND a human error. When I was working on one such case, the attorney hired two experts: me to perform the mechanical analysis and a WVU human factors professor named Ralph Plummer to look at the human side of the accident. Since we had a two-hour drive each way for the site visit, we drove together and started talking. He explained what human factors professionals did and I was very intrigued.

Who We Are

The Foundation for Professional Ergonomics was established in 2004 as a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing professionalism in ergonomics through educational activities and awards.  Our goals support the goals of BCPE, and we work closely with the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) on various ergonomics practitioner initiatives.  FPE attained an IRS 501(c)(3) status enabling tax-deductible donations from those sharing this dedication to professionalism in ergonomics. 
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