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HFES Bulletin

October 2011
Volume 54, Number 10

Inside HFES

National Ergonomics Month Is Here!

By Joseph R. Keebler, NEM Committee Cochair

October is here, and that means it?s National Ergonomics Month (NEM)?now in its ninth year! Have you participated in NEM events in the past? If not, there?s no time like the present to get started.

Over the last nine years, NEM volunteers throughout the Society have focused on four specific audiences: the media, corporate and government leaders, educators, and students. If you have already conducted NEM activities in the past, or are planning an event for 2011, we applaud your commitment to human factors/ergonomics and to placing importance on the future of HF/E. If you haven?t considered participating or developing your own NEM activities, we hope that you will be inspired this year to take the next step.

The slogan for NEM is ?A Time for Teaching, Learning, Networking, Service, and Fun!? That encompasses quite a bit, but at the same time it leaves the door wide open for you to plan any type of event, in any location, with any type of audience that you want to reach to spread the word about the HF/E field.

Now that National Ergonomics Month is in full swing, I?d like to start off by thanking Raegan Hoeft for her devotion and hard work as NEM Committee chair these past few years. Great job, Raegan! Alan Hedge and I will serve as the new NEM Committee cochairs and hope to fill Raegan?s shoes. We also have a new NEM puzzle to share with anyone who is interested. Please contact us for more information on these very entertaining and hard-to-solve NEM puzzles.

HFES President Mica Endsley has asked us to take a new approach to NEM this year. In addition to our current activities, we will extend our outreach efforts throughout the year to spread the word about the value of the HF/E field. Planning has begun to aid in outreach next year to the U.S. population in general, local communities, undergraduate programs, industry, and government to make sure these important audiences know how important HF/E is in the creation of safe and usable technology.

Recap of 2011 NEM Activities
The NEM Expo at the HFES Annual Meeting in Las Vegas was a success. We had many good demonstrations and active participation from the university students who entered the NEM Best Action Plan contest. To honor those who won, we provide some insight into the award winners? plans.

Congratulations once again to the HFES Georgia Tech Student Chapter! Copresidents Jonathan Schuett and John S. Burnett provided a fantastic action plan and brought fun materials to the NEM Expo in the form of radio-controlled cars with wrongly mapped remote controls. The cars were not only fun (and difficult) to drive but were a very interesting demonstration of why HF/E is so important in interface design. The Georgia Tech action plan, ?Bringing Human Factors to the City: The Bad Design Atlanta Competition,? demonstrates a unique and well-thought-out plan for disseminating HF/E knowledge in the city of Atlanta. The plan arose from a university-wide competition in which students will be directed to find something that is poorly designed and propose an HF/E redesign. Relevant materials will be provided to potential entrants, including examples of bad designs with suggested redesign improvements. A panel of expert judges that includes Wendy Rogers and Gregory Corso, as well as a committee of Georgia Tech students, will choose the winners.

Congratulations also go to Robert Turner for his NEM Action Plan, ?Form or Function? Challenging Sullivan?s Credo with a Day at the Racetrack.? This plan aims to promote better understanding of the apparent conflict between Louis Sullivan?s credo that ?form follows function? and the HF/E credo that ?function must follow form.? The plan will consist of 3 components: A debate; a land, sea, and air ?derby? competition; and an after-action review. Six students will debate whether form follows function or vice versa and poll audience members, who will vote electronically. In the product design/prototype/testing derby, land, sea, and air racers will compete in multiple tests. Each team will have a prerecorded video describing the form versus function argument in relation to their racer, and the racers will be judged along multiple criteria by the audience members. Finally, the after-action review will take the form of a question-answer session in which the audience will help to determine the derby winner.

We are very proud of the student winners. These excellent projects, developed from the NEM Best Action Plan contest, help to ensure that NEM will continue to push the boundaries of HF/E outreach.

My thanks to Raegan Hoeft for her assistance in the preparation of this article. Enjoy the rest of National Ergonomics Month!

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