Academic Programs Background
The Ergonomics Graduate Training Program provides high quality training for students interested in a M.S. and Ph.D. degree in ergonomics. In 1998 California became the only state in the nation to enact a workplace ergonomics standard. This standard and the high cost of work-related musculoskeletal disorders have generated a high West Coast need for professionals and researchers with expertise in ergonomics. UC Berkeley is one of only two West Coast universities that offer Ph.D. training in ergonomics - the other is the University of Washington. The Program is small but the quality of the graduates is high as demonstrated by their advancement to Ph.D. training and by their rapid employment by regional firms and agencies. Over the 17 year period of the Training Program, six of the Program graduates have filled faculty positions in ergonomics at other universities. Trainees usually have multiple job offers as consultants or as health and safety employees at companies or agencies.
As a small program, the courses, lectures and research advising are built by forming collaborative relationships with faculty from other disciplines. For example, students are required to take courses from the Departments of Industrial Engineering, Integrative Biology, and Environmental Health Sciences. Students from bioengineering, nursing, industrial hygiene and occupational medicine take the Ergonomics course (PH269C) side-by-side with ergonomics students.
These interdisciplinary and intercampus bridges have strengthened the research training program and have led to the successful recruitment of Ph.D. students from Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering to complement students admitted via the School of Public Health. Students with backgrounds in engineering carry out research and exchange knowledge and share experiences with students whose strengths are in biology and health.
Dr. Rempel promotes ergonomics and public health within the Department of Bioengineering by lecturing to undergraduates and advising Ph.D. students. This new department now has the second largest undergraduate enrollment in the College of Engineering and the highest quality students, making it an excellent source for recruitment of future graduate students.
The Ergonomics Program continues to provide training to health and safety professionals throughout the State with the COEH continuing education program. A two-day course is taught every December and another one is taught every August at the COEH Summer Institute. The faculty also speak at regional professional health and safety conferences (WOHC, AIHA, BAER). There has been increased outreach and education to regional contractors and manufacturers through joint meetings with OHSA , employers, trade conferences, contractor associations, and unions.