The History of Human Factors and Ergonomics

By David Meister | Go to book overview

7
Special Interests Within HFE

As we have seen, every discipline begins as a more or less integrated whole and then fractionates into individual specialties. This chapter describes the individual HFE specialties, with emphasis on two: macroergonomics or, as it is often called, organizational development and management (ODAM); and human reliability (HR) or, as the author prefers to call it, quantitative prediction.

The specialties described in this chapter roughly follow those that have been formally accepted by the HFES. A technical group within the Society is accepted when a certain number of Society members petition to be accepted as a technical group. As of 1997, the following are technical groups within the Society: aerospace systems, aging, cognitive ergonomics/decision making, communications, computer systems, consumer products, educators' professional, environmental design, forensics' professional, individual differences in performance, industrial ergonomics, medical systems and rehabilitation, ODAM, safety, surface transportation, system development, test and evaluation, training, and virtual environments. The author's breakout of specialties based on research papers closely follows the HFES classification, but is not identical with it. It should be noted that there are other special interests among HFE professionals that have not been formalized by acceptance by the Society (e.g., HR).

Fractionation into specialties occurs for two interactive reasons: the internal interests of individuals and the external interests of funding agencies, which draw those with compatible interests further into the specialty. The importance of funding cannot be exaggerated. We have seen (chaps. 4 and 5) that HFE would not have developed without the interest of the govern

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