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Information for Students

Lowell, Massachusetts
Department of Work Environment

Title: Occupational Ergonomics and Safety (MS, PSM, ScD)
Est: 1987
Granted last 3 years: MS 8, ScD 1
Part-time: yes
HFES student chapter: yes
Program: The master's degree program is designed to give the student a broad education in the protection of health and safety in the workplace. Occupational ergonomics is concerned with occupational safety and health and, specifically, the prevention of injuries, upper extremity cumulative trauma disorders, and low back injuries, as well as the effects of psychosocial stress through design of the workplace, tools, and environment. A student concentrating in occupational ergonomics and safety is also required to take introductory courses in industrial hygiene, epidemiology, and work environment policy to complete this education. The doctoral program is built on the substantial didactic training gained with the master's degree, with advanced courses selected from biomechanics, human factors, work methods analysis, and others. Research possibilities include development and application of biomechanical models, work analysis through laboratory simulations and field studies, injury surveillance and epidemiological techniques, and studies of macroergonomics, psychosocial stress and work organization.
Contact: Bryan Buchholz, Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1 University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854; 978/934-3241;,
Catalog: (free) Sokny Long, Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1 University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854; 978/934-3255,

Deadlines: for financial aid consideration: April 1 (fall), October 1 (spring)
Fee: $50;

GPA: 3.0
GRE: 290 q + v (1100 for tests taken prior to August 1, 2011, waived for those holding a relevant graduate degree).
Other: Courses in math, biology, and physics required.
Research: medium
Work experience: medium
Letters: medium
Interview: low

Students applying last year: 4
Accepted: 4
Entered program: 3
Openings/year: 15

Resident: $5352/semester
Nonresident: $9902/semester

% receiving: 50
Amount: $5352/$15680/$25000
Available: fellowship, TA, RA (all tuition exempt)
Apply: with application

MS: 36 units, oral defense of thesis, research required, no languages or practical experience required, 2 years
Nonthesis option: yes
PSM: 36 units, pratical experience (internship) required, 2 years
ScD: 18 units beyond master's, qualifying exam, oral defense of proposal and oral defense of dissertation; no languages or practical experience required; dissertation; 3 years beyond master's

Required courses (units): Introduction to Ergonomics and Industrial Hygiene (3), Occupational Biomechanics (3), Human Factors (3), Methods in Work Analysis (3), Occupational Safety Engineering (3)
Electives: Occupational Biomechanics Lab (3), Advanced Biomechanics (3), Healthy Work Organization (3), Epidemiology of Musculoskeletal Disorders (3). Exposure Data Analysis (3), Macroergonomics (3), Accident Prevention Principles (3)
Required courses outside department: 0
Recommended courses outside department: 0
Offered: night
Class size: 7-25

Research facilities: The program's Occupational Biomechanics Lab, which is continuously being expanded and enhanced, has a video camera and playback system for observational job analysis, strain gauge load cells and hand dynamometers for static strength measurement, electromyographic equipment, anthropometers and goniometers, including various electrogoniometers, a lumbar motion monitor and 6 DOF motion tracking equipment, accelerometers for both segmental and whole-body vibration, vibrometer for sensory nerve function testing, heat stress monitor, and noise dosimeter. The lab has microcomputers dedicated to analog-to-digital data conversion and collection, as well as data loggers and telemetry devices for data collection in the field. The department has additional personal computers available for general coursework.
Teaching: TAs may serve as guest lecturers, lab instructors, and graders. Also available are opportunities for attending and presenting papers at professional conferences and providing consultative services to local industries.
Current research: Evaluation of work-related musculoskeletal disease risk and development of ergonomic interventions in automobile and large appliance manufacturing, as well as the construction, fishing, and healthcare industries; identification of production, ergonomic, and work organization factors associated with psychological stress; development of a biomechanical model of the hand for predicting the grip posture and grip force capabilities as a function of the hand anthropometry and size and shape of the object grasped for the evaluation of tool design and usage for performance and safety; and lab studies of bioinstrumentation to determine applicability for ergonomic exposure assessment.

Active: 6 men, 7 women
First-year students: 3

Maria Brunette, PhD 2002, U Wisconsin; macroergonomics, occupational health and safety
Bryan Buchholz, PhD 1989, U Michigan; biomechanics, ergonomics
Robert Karasek, PhD 1976, MIT; psychosocial stress, work organization
Laura Punnett, ScD 1985, Harvard School of Public Health; ergonomics, epidemiology [Updated: May 2012]

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