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Cutting-Edge Engineering

Cutting-Edge EngineeringPopular Mechanics magazine recently recognized Tufts University’s engineering psychology program as one of the most “cutting-edge science and engineering programs” in the country.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.25.06] For Tufts graduate Allison Yale, engineering is just as much about people as it is about science. Yale spent her college career focused on both through Tufts’ innovative, interdisciplinary engineering psychology program, which was recently recognized by Popular Mechanics magazine as one of the most “cutting-edge science and engineering programs” in the country.

“It’s the people person’s engineering,” Yale told the magazine. The 2005 Tufts graduate who now works for a small consulting firm studying ways to improve the design of medical devices to reduce human error. She said that it’s one of the rare engineering programs in the country that attracts more women than men. The focus on the human side of engineering may be why, Yale said.

“Engineers build gadgets; psychologists study the human mind,” Popular Mechanics reported. “Put them together and you get the field of engineering psychology—also known as human factors—which promotes easy-to-use technology designed with the strengths and limitations of its human users as priorities.”

Tufts’ engineering psychology program was created in the late 1960s by John G. Kreifeldt, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, who helped develop the Reach angled tooth brush in 1975. Originally focused on consumer products, the program—a blend of engineering and psychology courses—has turned much of its attention to computer interfaces and medical devices, Popular Mechanics reported.

“The field of engineering psychology is expanding from ergonomic improvements on existing devices to designs for better lifesaving technologies,” according to the magazine.

Through the program, which offers graduate degrees in human factors engineering as well as undergraduate degrees in engineering psychology, students gain valuable practical experience.

As part of a senior project, Sara Waxberg, who earned a bachelors degree in engineering psychology in 2004, developed a new system to help train surgeons. According to the magazine, she “used video game play to train surgeons to use a controller for maneuvering in a 3D space inside the body while gazing at a 2D screen.”

Because of their Tufts training, Popular Mechanics identified Waxberg and Yale as young engineers who have the potential to “change the world.” The magazine also reported that the Tufts program is one of 10 science and engineering programs across the country that will shape “the next 20 years of American innovation.”

 

 

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