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Design Brief: To demonstrate the importance of Ergonomics in the design process. To illustrate the necessity of determining the needs and capabilities of the people who will use a product or work site and accommodating these factors in the design process.

Context: Ergonomics: a term taken from the Greek word ergon, meaning work, and nomos, meaning natural laws. In other words, ergonomics refers to the natural laws of work.
Ergonomics is also known as human engineering or human factors engineering. It is the science of designing machines, products, and systems to maximize the safety, comfort, and efficiency of the people who use them. Ergonomists draw on the principles if industrial engineering, psychology, anthropometry (the science of human measurements), and biomechanics (the study of muscular activity) to adapt the design of products and workplace to people's sizes and shapes and their physical strengths and limitations. Ergonomists also consider the speed with which humans react and how they process information. The use of ergonomics enters into the design of everything from equipment for space missions to the most comfortable car interior, the split keyboard or athletic shoes.
Ergonomics is used in our society to:
  • eliminate workplace accidents or prevent injuries
  • increase worker efficiency when designing work spaces
  • reduce a worker's stress, both physically and mentally
  • make consumer products safer, easier to use and more reliable
  • make maps, instruction manuals, and even computer programs and Internet Sites easier to use
Possible Solutions: Have the Zorbagians adapt to items designed for human use, hire a design expert, do it yourself.

Design Constraints: The following are some constraints or limitations for this project:
  1. You may work individually for the sketch and then in groups of three.
  2. The sketch each individual produces will be evaluated this period in your group.
  3. The sketch representing the group's vision of a Zorbagian will be presented to the class in a subsequent period.
  4. You have 45 minutes to complete the project in class.
  5. The Zorbagians have some peculiarities:
    • They have three tentacles with four finger-like digits and retractable claws.
    • They have three legs.
    • They have 3 eyes on top of eye stalks.
    • They have a short, scaly tail.
    • They're allergic to the sun and the colour red.
    • They require a constant, ongoing supply of water.
Note: Your final work will be presented as a group to the class.

Detail Design: The following are the steps to follow for developing your design:
  1. Ensure that the work area is clear of hazardous materials (i.e., oil, gas, rags, wood, plastic, etc.)
  2. Congratulations! You're a famous ergonomics expert, so famous in fact that you're reputation has reached the Galaxy Zorbag, where a group of friendly, super-intelligent, space aliens live. They plan to visit Earth. Having heard about your skill and creativity in designing tasks, tools, and settings for human beings, they've communicated with you telepathically and told you they will be visiting. They will need a comfortable place to live and work during their visit. They know how to access our "primitive" computers, so they will need comfortable workstations. Since they would like to do some sightseeing they will also need transportation. Social considerations must be made (i.e., adaptations and interaction with others).
  3. Your mission is to come up with ideas to help the Zorbagians adapt to our environment on earth. You want them to be comfortable and productive as they work here. You need to protect them from any problems the may encounter, and still make them feel at home. Since this is such an important intergalactic visit, you have unlimited access to manufacturing plants and production facilities. So go to it! The Zorbagians are coming soon!
  4. In this activity, you will first produce a sketch of the visiting alien, commonly referred to as a "Zorbagian", by utilizing physical descriptors. Then, in your group, the group will create their vision of a Zorbagian. After the physical appearance has been established, you will design ergonomically correct products for our new friends.
Materials: 11"x17" paper, pencil, ruler, scissors, glue, tape, pencil crayons, etc.

Commissioning: Were you successful in this project when you tried it out?

Evaluation: Did this project work as you expected it to?

Reflection: Did you enjoy this project? What were you most proud of? What would you do differently next time?