Systems Ergonomic Design


The purpose of this course is to teach students methodologies focused on the optimization of the Human-System compatibility. Considering the human capabilities and limitations, work systems must be designed to minimize human error, stress, and fatigue of operators, as well as to improve ease of use, effectiveness, and productivity. At the end of this course, the student will have acquired knowledge, skills and capacities to:

- Design work sist.s with computers - "traditional" or touch screens
- Design interactive interfaces
- Evaluate the usability of a system or digital interface
- Produce models of work systems, identify problems of human interaction with the work system, and explore the design of solutions in a virtual environment using digital tools.
- Prevent human error.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Teresa Martins Videira Gabriel, Isabel Maria Nascimento Lopes Nunes


Weekly - 4

Total - 72

Teaching language



None are compulsory. However, it is highly recommended that students have completed the curricular units of Ergonomics and Occupational Safety and Health, since there is continuity in the themes addressed.


Norman D. A. The Design of Everyday Things, The MIT Press, 1998

Nielsen J. Usability Engineering, Acad Press, 1993

Tullis T.&Albert B. Measuring the user experience, Elsevier, 2008

Nielsen J.&Budiu R. Mobile Usability, New Riders, 2013

Kompier M. &Levi L.O stress no trabalho: causas, efeitos e prevenção. Guia para PME. FEMCVT, Dublin, 1995

Park K.S. Human Error in Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics. G. Salvendy (ed). J.Wiley & Sons, 1997


Teaching method

The theoretical lectures (2 hours per week), in which the main concepts and theory are explained, are supported by data show.

The practical sessions occur in the lab (2 hours per week), in which students participate in the following activities:

• evaluation and (re)design of one workstation with computers; real case preferably inside the Campus;

• development of a digital prototype application: design of interfaces and respective interactions;

• usability evaluation of a human-system interface;

• problem-solving based on practical cases - for example, analysis and classification of human errors. 

• 3D simulation of jobs.


Evaluation method

The evaluation process has the following components:

- 3 practical project-assignments (TP1, TP2 and TP3) in groups of 3 students, with individual oral presentation and discussion. The completion of the second group-work also requires a  written report in the format of a "conference paper" (50%)

- 2 mid-term individual tests (T1 and T2) (50%)

 The final grade is given by: 

 - FinalGrade = 25% T1 + 25% Te2 + 10% TP1 + 20% TP2 + 20% TP3

Successful completion of this curricular unit is achieved if: 

(Average (T1, T2)> = 10) AND (TP1 >= 10) AND (TP2 >= 10) AND (TP3 >= 10)

Exam (compulsory for the students without approval in the two individual tests). The exam replaces the tests on the same proportion.

Subject matter

1. Design of Work systems with computers: Ergonomic requirements. Legislation. Workstation components and layout. Occupational health problems. New HCI: touchscreens.

2. Ergonomics and Lean Six Sigma in the design of work systems. Objectives and advantages. Synergies and antagonisms. The role of Ergonomics within Industry 4.0; relationship with digital interfaces.

3. Human Error and Cognitive Ergonomics. Definitions and human error classification. Human Reliability Assessment (HRA). Prevention of human error in the design of interfaces.

4. Interfaces design. Human-system interaction. User-centered development of interfaces. Usability Principles. Prototyping. Methods for evaluating usability. Cognitive Walkthrough and Nielsen heuristics. Prototyping Software packages: Justinmind Balsamiq.

5. Work-related stress. Concepts. Health effects. Assessment methods and prevention of stress. 


Programs where the course is taught: