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What is Human Factors?

"Human Factors is concerned with the application of what we know about people, their abilities, characteristics, and limitations to the design of equipment they use, environments in which they function, and jobs they perform."

–Human Factors and Ergonomic Society

Human Factors and device use


Technological advances can increase productivity and safety for individuals and society; however, there is no guarantee that they will do so. Technology is just one component of a complex socio-technical system, and only an integrated understanding of how humans and systems interact can ensure that advances in technology will translate to advances in safety and productivity. The Human Factors certificate will better prepare students for future careers in both industry and academics by focusing on interactions between humans and systems. The greater Salt Lake City area is currently experiencing a transformation into a high-tech area, which in turn is attracting many companies for which Human Factors is an important area of concern.

This certificate allows students to focus their studies in the field of Human Factors through a curated selection of courses and an independent research project. The certificate complements many existing fields of study and students can apply to complete the certificate with any major, including (but not limited to):

  • Psychology
  • Engineering
  • Computer science
  • Pre-medicine
  • Nursing
  • Design


Learning Outcomes

  • Goal 1: Broad knowledge of the science of human factors and ergonomics that provides a foundation for both career development and lifelong learning.
  • Goal 2: An ability to design, conduct, analyze, and interpret human factors experiments and their data for the purpose of addressing human factors and ergonomics problems.
  • Goal 3: Experience in designing or re-designing a system, component, or process to meet accepted human factors and ergonomics standards within realistic constraints.
  • Goal 4: Effective communication skills for teamwork, collaboration, and dissemination of results.
  • Goal 5: An understanding of global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts from which human factors and ergonomics problems, as well as their solutions, arise.

Featured Projects

Students in our department have completed a number of diverse and insightful projects as part of the Human Factors Certificate. The following are some of the projects that highlight their work. 


Project Title



David Gerritsen

I’d Like to Introduce You to My Desktop: Toward a Theory of Social Human-Computer Interaction

Spring 2012

Gerritsen, et al. 2012

Cailee Markosian

Attention Allocation in Automated Vehicles

Fall, 2017

Markosian, 2018

Jeremy Donaldson

Examining Effective Navigation Learning Strategies for the Visually Impaired

Fall, 2017

Donaldson, 2018

Last Updated: 2/4/21