Advancing Human Safety and Ergonomics through Sensing and Simulation (October 8, 2018)
In the current era when the way we work and interact with our world is evolving with rapidly expanding technologies, ergonomics and human factors must be creative in order to meet these new challenges. Ergonomics and Safety are scientific disciplines used to engineer better solutions to complex relationship between people and their environments. Goals include the reduction of musculoskeletal disorders, worker errors, and physical strain and exhaustion through the study of engineering, biomechanics, human factors, anthropometry, industrial design, and user-interface design. We can use wearable sensors, robotics and computational models to enable greater knowledge of exposure, injury and prevention. This presentation will highlight examples of how research from the Ergonomics and Safety Lab at the University of Utah is using a variety of techniques and methods to expand our understanding of how to safely and efficiently interact with our ever changing world.
Advised by mechanical engineering assistant professor Andrew Merryweather, the senior design project Wearable Tremor Damping Device, was selected as one of the six finalists for the 2018 Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices at the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics July 8-12, 2018, Dublin, Ireland. There the team was given the opportunity to present their design at a special podium presentation.
Ms. Mikaela Hayward and Prof. Andrew S. Merryweather are pictured above in Dublin. The entire team is pictured below and from, left to right, are MEEN BS 2018 Seniors Kory Cross, Irsyad Badri, Mikaela Hayward, Quincy Stevens, and Hyrum Peterson.
On September 14th and 20th, Dr. Mitja Trkov attended the Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services Fall-Prevention Awareness events which were open to the general public. Dr. Trkov shared fall-prevention tips and discussed Ergonomics & Safety Program research. He was accompanied by Prof. Andrew Merryweather on the 14th and by Prof. Ken d’Entremont on the 20th.
Attendees were able to learn of simple ergonomic principles to help prevent the slip, trip, and fall of the aging population. In addition, many of those attending were able to see dynamic pressure maps of their own feet in real-time using the E&S Program’s instrumented insoles as shown in the photograph below (September 20, 2018).
Jon Mortensen and Mitja Trkov presented their work at the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association in Florence, Italy. Jon presented a new modeling approach to evaluate falls using OpenSim, and Dr. Trkov presented work related to the Lifting Coach.
Bagnara S, Tartaglia R, Albolino S, Alexander T, Fujita Y, editors. Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018): Volume II: Safety and Health, Slips, Trips and Falls. Springer; 2018 Aug 4.
Bagnara S, Tartaglia R, Albolino S, Alexander T, Fujita Y, editors. Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2018): Volume VI: Transport Ergonomics and Human Factors (TEHF), Aerospace Human Factors and Ergonomics. Springer; 2018 Aug 4.
Prof. Merryweather and his colleagues awarded the IEA/Liberty Mutual Medal for a paper published in Journal of Ergonomics. The paper with title of “Relationships between job organizational factors, biomechanical and psychosocial exposures” is published by Stephen S. Bao, Jay M. Kapellusch, Andrew S. Merryweather, Mathew S. Thiese, Arun Garg, Kurt T. Hegmann & Barbara A. Silverstein.
The IEA/Liberty Mutual Award in Occupational Safety and Ergonomics was instituted in 1998. The award and a cash prize of US$ 10,000 recognizes outstanding original research leading to the reduction or mitigation of work-related injuries and/or to the advancement of theory, understanding, and development of occupational safety research.
The pediatric adaptive skiing system is one of more than nine funded undergraduate research projects under way at any given time within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. It is also one of over 250 funded undergraduate research projects campus-wide. Working to build a pediatric adaptive skiing system, mechanical engineering sophomore Jacob Hopkin says, “It will be a novel device able to adapt to children with different levels of disabilities, as well as progress with these users as they learn to ski.”
Along with fellow mechanical engineering student Dallin Rees, Hopkins works one-on-one with mechanical engineering assistant professor Andrew Merryweather in the Ergonomics and Safety Lab. “Dr. Merryweather is awesome! He is always willing to take time out of his day to meet. In fact, he almost missed an abstract submission because of his willingness. Sorry!”
Merryweather and Hopkins are hoping to have their skis on the snow soon for preliminary testing with the finished product deliverable in February.
From Pocatello, Idaho, Hopkins notes that, “Between loving everything outdoors, i.e. skiing, mountain biking, running, and a great engineering program, the University of Utah was a natural choice for me. Campus lies in an ideal area for all of those activities and beyond that, the U’s mechanical engineering program is competitive with the most prestigious in the west.”
“One of the benefits of majoring in mechanical engineering is that mechanical engineers know some of all engineering disciplines, which I believe makes for a more rounded engineer. Additionally, I like choices and a mechanical engineering degree opens the door for an advanced degree in other engineering majors. Regarding my current research, I love the project. It combines a large number of my interests. Plus, I am able to directly give back to the community.”
Salt Lake Tribune: “We used to literally prescribe this kind of activity. We now try to make it part of the rehabilitation experience from the beginning,” Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth said. As director of the university’s spinal cord injury program, Rosenbluth typically works with his patients in a clinical setting. “Just knowing this possibility is out there is an amazing part of the process. Everything we do is sustainable. This is not diversionary recreation. It is something people with spinal cord injuries can do all the time.”
Danny Salazar can’t move his arms and legs, and he has a hard time breathing on his own. But the 29-year-old can blow and suck air through his mouth just enough to control a modified Mirage Tandem Island sailboat built by Hobie.
Salazar controlled the sailboat’s rudder via a “sip and puff” system like the ones used on wheelchairs. A senior project team of mechanical engineers from the University of Utah worked for two semesters on the sailboat. (Full Salt Lake Tribune story)
The University of Utah Department of Mechanical Engineering Green Machine team was selected as one of six-finalist undergraduate projects nationwide invited to compete in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Bioengineering 2013 Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices. The competition was held June 26-29, in Sunriver, Oregon.
The Green Machine is an autonomous garden cart that follows the user around the yard. The green machine also has the ability to lift and dump to a height of a standard size trashcan. Team members are mechanical engineering seniors, Taylor Grenis (lead), Brian Hutchings, Bryan Van Horssen, Clay Williams, and Kolby Sorenson. Their faculty advisors are Larry DeVries, distinguished professor and Andrew Merryweather, assistant professor in mechanical engineering.
The students generated the original idea for this project. Team member Kolby Sorenson noted, “Having grandparents who love to garden, but struggle to transport soil, plants, and rocks around their yards, we realized that an electric yard wagon could help them to do what they loved. Then we realized that this machine could help all people with physical disabilities. It could do the heavy lifting for them, and follow them to wherever they needed it.”
Sorenson continued, “We were expecting advice on Solid Mechanics and Dynamics calculations, from our faculty advisor, mechanical engineering Distinguished Professor Larry DeVries. He surprised us with a wealth of knowledge we were not expecting. In addition to the technical needs, he helped us to make the Green Machine user-friendly and to construct our project schedule. He even donated his stipend from the NSF grant back into the project.”
The Green Machine undergraduate project was one of 23 senior design projects showcased during the Department of Mechanical Engineering Design Day held on April 16, 2013, in the Olpin Union Building. The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah is committed to providing students with broad-based, rigorous and progressive education. By combining state-of-the-art facilities with renowned faculty, the department provides an education that gives students the necessary skills to become the next generation of innovators.
ErgoLink, a design team made up of students from the University of Utah’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, won first place in the eTools Ergonomic Design Competition on march 22, 2010 for demonstrating superior ability to solve ergonomic related design problems. The event was sponsored by Auburn Engineers Inc.
“We had to redesign a backpack and a hand-held packaging tape dispenser—two common consumer products—as part of a multi-phase competition,” said Rami Shorti, ErgoLink’s team leader and mechanical engineering student at the University of Utah. “Our team was able to evaluate both products, and come up with innovative ways to improve their overall design, making them more ergonomically sound.”
As part of their evaluation process of the backpack, members of ErgoLink surveyed fellow college students to see how they used their backpacks, how much weight they usually carried in them, and which features they would like to see improved. After completing their evaluation, Ergo Link decided to make the backpack thinner by moving the center of mass closer to the body, reducing moment or torque on the lower back. They also added wider shoulder straps to help distribute the weight and reduce stress on the shoulders.
ErgoLink competed against seven teams from six universities and was presented with the award at the 13th annual Applied Ergonomics Conference. ErgoLink’s team members are: Rami Shorti (Team Leader), Sree Harsha Jampala, James Nolin, Chris Brammer, and Jason Kraft.