Q&A with Colin Drury

Colin Drury, Ph.D., C.P.E., is distinguished professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering at University at Buffalo, SUNY. He will be giving his keynote presentation at the Applied Ergonomics Conference on March 26, 2014, at 9:45 a.m.

What is the most pervasive issue or challenge in ergonomics and human factors today, and how, if applicable, does your work affect it?

The main issue I have found is keeping the field unified in the face of day-to-day demands by our clients. We are asked to work on, for example, physical ergonomics issues to prevent injuries, yet the issues of overall human performance tend to be neglected. Conversely, we are asked to contribute to issues of safety culture, but physical aspects of the people at work and not always considered. Ergonomics/human factors (EHF or HFE) needs to consider the whole person: cognitive, physical and social.

What do you plan to discuss in your keynote presentation?

My plan is to develop this theme of designing for the whole person. I have examples from practice where the "presenting symptoms" pointed to one aspect of the person at work but detailed analysis revealed deeper issues in other aspects.

What would you like attendees to take away from your presentation?

I hope they take away the idea that as ergonomists we need to know all aspects of people at some level, even though we may specialize in only a limited range ourselves. Becoming a certified practitioner (e.g., by BCPE in the United States) helps ensure that the broader person is considered. But we need to practice this as well as knowing it.

For more information about Drury and the other AEC keynote speaker, go to the Keynote Speakers Web page.