|Basic Facts||Program Background||Program Plan||Program Admission
||Financial Support||What our Graduates Do
If you are
interested in obtaining a masters degree in industrial
engineering, and you are interested in occupational safety and
ergonomics, this program will be of interest to you.
Through this program students study, conduct research, and gain
work experience in occupational safety and ergonomics. A
limited number of full-time students will also receive financial
assistance ("traineeships") through a grant from the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Our graduates have careers as
safety engineers, industrial engineers, human systems
integration specialists, software analysts, and human factors
engineers. They work for design firms and the US Navy;
they work in the home health care industry, aerospace research,
heavy industry, brewing, and financial services.
1. Program Rationale
A program in Occupational Safety and Ergonomics is offered to students pursuing a master's degree in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering at OSU, to provide educational opportunities to engineering students interested in pursuing industrial, consulting, or academic careers in occupational safety and ergonomics, or related areas. This NIOSH-supported Training Project Grant program is designed for students who wish to obtain a master's degree in engineering, while pursuing their interests in occupational safety and ergonomics. Given that engineers often design the systems with which people work, it makes sense to educate engineers about the potential impact various design decisions can have on the humans who will operate those systems. As such, this program has been designed to fulfill all the M.S. degree requirements of the Department while allowing students to specialize in Occupational Safety & Ergonomics.
2. Background History
University is an ideal place to prepare engineers to work in
the area of safety and ergonomics. Ohio State
University is one of the top 10 research universities in the
country, based on rankings posted by the National Science
Foundation in 2007. This means that at OSU students have
opportunities to learn from and interact with some of the best
teachers and researchers in the country.
Ohio State’s Integrated Systems Engineering Department has housed, for a number of years now, one of the strongest human factors and ergonomics programs in the country, based on faculty records and reputations, and those of our graduates. The program was one of the first to be accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES). Faculty from across OSU's campus participate in this program. Primary program faculty include William S. Marras, Steven A. Lavender and Carolyn M. Sommerich. They are all in the ISE Department and specialize in ergonomics and occupational biomechanics. Also from ISE, Philip J. Smith (relevant research interests: cognitive systems engineering; research focuses on issues concerned with design of cooperative problem-solving systems to support people in performing complex tasks), David Woods (relevant research interests: patient safety; resilience engineering and management), Mike Rayo (data analytics and data visualization; handoffs; decision support), and Blaine Lilly (relevant research interests: design for usability and manufacturability). From the College of Public Health: Michael Bisesi (relevant research interests: occupational and environmental health).
Our NIOSH-sponsored Program helps us increase the number of students we are able to train, expand our programmatic offering beyond human factors and ergonomics, and create a well-rounded, well-conceived program in safety and ergonomics that exposes our students to faculty from several different departments at OSU and numerous expert practitioners in the Central Ohio area. This, in turn, helps us provide more Ohio employers and those elsewhere with engineers who become valuable employees because of the breadth of their training (research methods, safety, heath, ergonomics/human factors, and others), sector exposure (agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing, and others), and instructor exposure (academics and experienced professionals).
3. The Need for Graduate Studies in Ergonomics and Safety
In 2013 there were a reported 3 million worker injuries and illnesses in private-sector workplaces in the US, and another 800,000 among state and local employees (ALF-CIO annual report). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 there were 917,090 cases of nonfatal, lost time occupational injuries and illnesses that occurred to employees in private industry. For 2012, Liberty Mutual reported that total cost burden of disabling work-related injuries was estimated to be $71 billion dollars. In our state, in 2014, lost wages paid from the workers compensation system totaled almost $15 million.
face of such statistics, there is a clear need for engineers
to specialize in ergonomics and safety, given that engineers
specify and design the systems with which people work. This
approach provides more opportunities to be proactive about
safety, by specifying, designing, and installing equipment and
systems that are safer from the beginning, rather than being
limited to working retroactively and having to compensate for
less-than-ideal systems. Engineering, occupational ergonomics,
and occupational safety and health are complementary disciplines
that are supportive of one another and are inextricably
linked. The ISE MS Program in Safety and Ergonomics is
designed to provide students with an educational experience
based on this model.
program is designed to satisfy the MS Program Requirements of
OSU's Department of Integrated Systems Engineering, as well as
meet the needs of engineers who wish to assume
responsibilities in occupational safety and ergonomics.
The department’s requirements for Industrial and Systems
Engineering (ISE) students seeking a master’s degree via the
thesis program include a minimum of 30 semester hours, including
at least 22 hours of course work and 4 hours of thesis research
credit. The course work consists of a depth requirement (6
semester credits minimum), a breadth requirement of at least
three credit hours from another area within ISE, 3 semester
credit hours of graduate level course work focused on
mathematical, statistical, or numerical methodologies, and 2
semester credit hours of ISE Graduate Research Seminar, and
elective course work. An oral defense of the thesis is
also required. There is a non-thesis program, as well, but
almost all of our students complete a thesis.
The program for the NIOSH-supported students includes required courses in occupational biomechanics, cognitive engineering, occupational health, industrial accident prevention and control, human error and systems failure, a research practicum, and an applied practicum (Table A). Working closely with the faculty, the research practicum provides students with the opportunity to work as a member of a group to identify a novel research topic, design an investigational protocol, write an application to the Institutional Review Board and secure its approval of the protocol, conduct the experiment, analyze the data, and write up the study in a paper that is submitted to a peer-reviewed conference or journal. The applied practicum gives students the opportunity to apply knowledge from coursework to a real-world problem. Projects may come through the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, or through our advisory board members, former trainees, other local industry contacts, or other sources.
|Table A. Required courses in
Occupational Safety & Ergonomics (this set of
courses fulfills the ISE depth requirement) :
|ISE 5600 - Principles of Occupational
Biomechanics and Industrial Ergonomics (UG3)
|ISE 5700 - Cognitive Engineering (G3)
|ISE 5640- Occupational Safety: Analysis
and Design of Work Environments (UG3)
Chem-BioE 5755 Chemical Process Safety (UG3)
|ISE 7610 - Advanced Topics in Biomechanics and
Musculoskeletal Disorders: Spine biomechanics
ISE 7620 - Advanced Topics in Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Upper extremity biomechanics (G3)
|ISE 7615 - Biomechanics Research Practicum:
Experience in spine
ISE 7625 - Biomechanics Research Practicum: Experience in upper extremity biomechanics (G3)
|ISE 5710 – Behind Human Error: Safety and
ISE 5870 – Resilience Engineering (UG3)
|PUBH-EHS 5325 – Principles of Occupational
Health Science (G4)
|ISE 6193 – as Safety & Ergonomics Practicum
(UG3), after all other courses are taken or during last
Students are also required to take a course in experimental design. Additionally, seminars given by local experts (academics and practitioners) covering selected topics in their areas of expertise are also part of the curriculum. These include experts in system safety and risk management, epidemiology and injuries of children in farm families, industrial safety, and hospital safety. Additionally, students can avail themselves of continuing education courses offered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, to gain exposure to topics that are not covered in courses here at OSU. All of these provide additional opportunities for the students to meet and interact with local safety and health professionals.
Elective courses are offered in a variety of areas, to match a student’s particular area of interest. These include civil engineering, mechanical engineering, epidemiology, and environmental health. A list of elective courses appears in Table B.
|Table B. Elective courses (choose a
minimum of 1 course) (≥ 3 hrs):
|CIVIL EN 5810 – Construction Safety &
|ISE 5820 - Systems Thinking in Engineering and
|ISE 5620 - Risk Assessment Tools for
Occupational Musculoskeletal Disorders
|ISE 7720 - Cognitive Systems Engineering:
Models and Methods (G3)
|ME 5716 – Probabilistic Reliability and Safety
Assessment (UG3) (cross-listed with Nuclear Eng.)
|PUBH-EHS 7365 – Principles of Risk Assessment
|PUBH-EHS 7330 – Principles of Exposure
|PUBH-EHS 6310 – Principles of Environmental Health (G3)|
|PUBH-EPI 6410 – Principles of Epidemiology (G3)
|PUBH-EPI 6430 - Epidemiology I (G3)
|PUBH-EPI 6432 – Injury Epidemiology (G3)
schedule is provided in Table C, below. Students who
receive traineeships through this program, in order to qualify
for tuition support, must register for 12 graduate credit
hours each semester they are enrolled. ISE 6193 is
used to provide students registered time to obtain training in
responsible research practices and become involved in ongoing
faculty research. Table C provides a sample schedule for
someone interested in electives in environmental health science
(students with this interest may consider pursuing a dual MS/MPH
degree program in ISE and EHS). Each student's study plan
will reflect his or her interests and goals. In the summer
of their first year, students will either be involved in
research or have an internship.
most commonly accepted from individuals with undergraduate
degrees in engineering or in the behavioral, biological,
physical, or safety sciences. Some preparation in mathematics
(calculus & matrix/linear algebra) is desired, in addition
to physical science, statics, statistics, engineering
psychology and/or physiology. Students who are lacking
in mathematics preparation can find calculus courses covering
key topics of derivatives, integration, and vectors taught at
their undergraduate institution or at many community colleges.
Graduate Record Exam is required of all applicants to
Ohio State’s Integrated Systems Engneering Department.
Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0 (B) in all
prior undergraduate and graduate level work for regular
admission. Our Department gives admission preference
to engineering and science graduates with an overall
undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.2/4.0.
Applicants may be denied admission for any of the following
reasons: new GRE scores below 166 Q, 153 V or 4.5 A or total
prior GRE aptitude score (verbal plus quantitative) less than
1200, verbal GRE score less than 400, analytical GRE score less
than 600, TOEFL paper-based test score of less than 550, or a
TOEFL computer-based test score of less than 213, or a TOEFL iBT
test score of less than 79. Please refer to the OSU
Graduate School Handbook for specific admission criteria
and admission credentials.
Based on availability of funds, traineeships (financial support similar to a fellowship) will be offered to applicants who meet the departmental requirements for admission, who have a specific interest in occupational safety and ergonomics, who are willing to meet the requirements of the traineeship, and who interview satisfactorily with the primary program faculty members. Interviews will be conducted over the phone if applicants cannot visit the campus.
residency is a requirement to be considered for financial
support through a "traineeship". Other forms of
support may be available to applicants who do not meet this
Women and individuals from other groups that are underrepresented in the areas of safety and engineering are strongly encouraged to apply.
BS/MS and dual MS degree programs
(such as an MS ISE & MS ME, or an MS ISE & MPH-EHS)
can be designed and supported.
number of traineeships are available to full-time students, at
the masters level of study. Traineeships provide a 9 month
stipend during the academic year and tuition assistance for
Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. U.S. residency
restrictions apply to traineeships; however, other forms of
support may be available for those who do no meet these
What our Graduates Do
Where do our
graduates go and what do they do? There is great diversity
in this! Examples include:
If you would like to know more about this master's degree program, please email Dr. Carolyn Sommerich at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 614-292-9965.
Center for Occupational Health in Automotive Manufacturing (COHAM)
Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory (C/E/S/L)
Distribution Ergonomics Research Center (DERC)
Orthopaedic Ergonomics Laboratory
Engineering Laboratory for Human Factors/Ergonomics/Safety
Department of Integrated Systems Engineering
OSU's Graduate School
updated August 2016