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Human Factors Engineering & Ergonomics

Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics is concerned with ways of designing jobs, machines, operations, and work environments so they are compatible with human capacities and limitations. The HFEE practitioner, operating within an industrial or governmental organization, is called upon both to apply existing human performance knowledge to the design or modification of equipment and also to generate new experimental data required for equipment design. 

Foundation coursework includes a detailed study of existing research, design, and evaluation methods that are appropriate to human factors engineering and ergonomics. Additionally, content courses include sensory ergonomics dealing with sensory capabilities and limitations of humans, physical ergonomics dealing with biomechanics and work physiology, cognitive ergonomics dealing with human information processing, and macroergonomics dealing with group processes. This course work is supplemented by research opportunities in a variety of human factors engineering and ergonomic application areas including auditory communication, computer displays, industrial safety, training, and transportation systems. Emphasis is placed upon specific content area courses, elective courses in the student’s area of interest, and laboratory research under the direct guidance of an HFEE faculty member.

Every student should be able to demonstrate basic computer proficiency. Students who have previously taken courses equivalent to those indicated may be exempt from such requirements as determined on a course-by-course basis. Students must petition substitution of these equivalent courses in their plan of study. This petition must be approved by the Virginia Tech instructor for the course(s) in question and the ISE Graduate Program Director.

Our program is accredited by the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE) and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).

Cognitive Engineering Human Factors of Systems & Product Design Occupational Ergonomics & Safety
  • Design digitial interfaces for products like apps, websites, interactive experiences.
  • Study human perception and cognition to design effective interactions with technology to promote safety, operational performance and innovation. 
  • Establish critical systems like those used to manage power plants, the commerical airspace, or large military systems.
  • Ensure products match human's abilities, like ensuring hearing protection works for all types of people in all types of environments.
  • Combine physical and engineering expertise with knwoledge from the biological and medical science fields.
  • Ensure safe working environments for all employees, and minimize danger and risk of injuries. 



Master's Level Doctoral Level  

M.S., Human Factors Engineering

M.Eng., Human Factors Engineering

Ph.D., Cognitive Engineering

  • This concentration provides interdisplinary training and exposure to the major approaches, methods, and tools to understand the capabilites and limitations of human cognition and their impact on interactive systems design.

Ph.D., Human Factors Engineering & Product Design

  • In this concentration, a two-pronged coursework path is designed to instill skill and knowledge in both: a) emperical research supported by human subject experimentation, and b) analytical, modeling, and physical measurement methodologies. 

Ph.D., Occupational Ergonomics & Safety

  • This concentration is designed to provide interdisciplinary training and exposure to the major methods, tools, and approaches needed to improve occupational safety and health in the U.S. and beyond. 
Cognitive Engineering Human Factors of Systems & Product Design Occupational Engineering & Ergonomics 
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality
  • Auditory/Acoustical Systems & Hearing Safety
  • Human-AI/Robot Teaming


  • Human-Systems Interaction Design & Evaluation
  • Macroerogonomics
  • Transportation Human-Machine Interfaces
    • Slips, Trips & Falls
    • Motor Control & Coordination
    • Musculoskeletal Injury Risk Factors
    • Ergonomic Exposure & Risk Assessment
    • Worker Safety and Health
    • Transportation Safety
    • Product and Process Safety
    • Worker Safety and Health
    • Transportation Safety
    • Product and Process Safety

    Affiliated Faculty Research & Labs

    Cognitive Engineering Human Factors of Systems & Product Design  Occupational Ergonomics & Safety
    • Research Scientist; Meta/Facebook
    • UX Team Lead, Huntington Ingalls Industries
    • User Experience (UX) Research Lead, Intel Experience Group
    • Senior Associate in User Experience Research and Design, Lextant
    • UX Designer II, Microsoft Mixed Reality, Microsoft
    • Senior UX Researcher, Meta
    • Senior Product Manager, BluePath Labs
    • Ground Test Engineer, Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin
    • Human Factors Research Scientiest; Global Center for Automative Performance Simulation
    • Group Lead Neuromuscular Biomechanics,
    • Institute for Biomechanics, ETHZ Zürich
    • Senior Research Scientist, Amazon
    • Ergonomics Consultant, VelocityEHS
    • Wearability Engineer, Meta Research
    • Industrial Engineer, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    • Director of Product & Design Technology, D-Ford Palo Alto 
    • Head of Safety Research, Android Auto at Google
    • Environmental Control Systems Manager, Boeing
    • Senior Director, Quality and Operations, Carilion New River Valley Medical Center
    • Safety Engineer, US Navy