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Human-Centered Design

Ended May 13, 2022
4.5 credits

Spots remaining: 13

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Full course description

Now Registering for March 21 – May 13, 2022.

This course will focus on the role of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HF/E) in the design of occupational tasks and consumer product design, especially for handheld devices. The first two weeks will introduce you to the design cycle, user experience (UX), and human computer interaction (HCI). We will then define human characteristics and variability through a detailed examination of anthropometry, as this is essential for human-centered design. The next two weeks will outline specific factors to consider when designing manual materials handling tasks, patient lifting in healthcare, manual upper extremity tasks, power tools, and handheld products. You will also explore methods to assess the cost-benefit of ergonomic design changes and various proactive design options, and will provide a detailed explanation of factors to consider when designing an office environment and computer workstation. Finally, you will consider engineering methods used to optimize workplace design and determine how to successfully inject ergonomics into the process. This course will include a review of the most current work simulation, digital human model software, and virtual/augmented reality technology being used by larger companies to proactively optimize worker safety and productivity. You will also gain experience in evaluating poorly designed products and performing anthropometric measurements and calculations. The course will conclude with a project to evaluate and optimally redesign a real occupational task using the concepts and information presented in this course.


Learning Objectives:

At the completion of this activity, the learner will be able to:​​

  • Understand the design process and cycle and how it can be applied to optimal work and product design
  • Understand the principles of effective design for user experience (UX) and human computer interaction (HC)
  • Discuss human variability and understand the use of standard anthropometric data to design for a predetermined population range.
  • Recommend optimal designs for occupational tasks involving manual materials handling, patient handling, manual upper extremity demand and manual & power tool use, through an understanding of the most current options available.
  • Perform calculations to establish the return on investment of both proactive and reactive designs.  
  • Recommend optimal Ergo/HF designs for office environments.
  • Understand the methods used for engineering design optimization, including scientific management, failure modes & effects analysis, constant improvement, six sigma, lean manufacturing just-in-time delivery and work simulation.
  • Learn the most current technology currently being used in Ergo/HF to proactively design occupational tasks and evaluate new products.


Instructor Information:

Jim Potvin, PhD, CCPE – Dr. Potvin received a B.H.K. in Kinesiology from the University of Windsor (1986) and a M.Sc. (1988) and Ph.D. (1992) in biomechanics from the University of Waterloo. He was a professor for 23 years at the University of Guelph, University of Windsor and McMaster University, where is he now a Professor Emeritus. He is also the owner of Potvin Biomechanics Inc. Dr. Potvin researches in the areas of biomechanics and physical ergonomics. His basic research focuses on the study of joint mechanics and muscle fatigue and his applied research focuses on developing valid ergonomic methods to quantify injury risk in the workplace; including the assessment of manual materials handling tasks and the evaluation of risk of upper limb disorders. Jim has supervised over 70 graduate students, employed 60 graduates, and published over 90 scientific articles.


Course Format: 

The course will be taught via narrated PowerPoint lectures, assigned readings, two assignments, a final design project, and facilitated discussions. This asynchronous online course engages students with weekly activities posted on the course site. There are no required textbooks, but some reference books are recommended, and sections of texts are provided and assigned for reading. The information needed to complete the assignments will be included in the resource material on the course site. Grades are determined by participation in assignments, discussions and the final project.  

This is an 8-week accelerated course, with a workload roughly equivalent to a full semester of 3 credit hour graduate coursework. We anticipate the weekly content and assignments to require anywhere between 10-20 hours of student involvement, depending on the individual student's strength and familiarity with HF/E.



This course is offered on a pass / fail basis for continuing education credit. Learners must obtain a final grade of 70% or higher, and a Final Exam grade of 60% or higher, to pass the course and to obtain a Certificate of Completion.

Certified Professional Ergonomists
Certified Professional Ergonomists may be eligible to earn up to 45 contact hours for this course. Visit for more information.

Certified Athletic Trainers
COEH (BOC AP#: P10242) is approved by the Board of Certification, Inc. to provide continuing education to Certified Athletic Trainers. This program is eligible for a maximum of 45 Category A hours. ATs should claim only those hours actually spent in the educational program.

Registered Nurses
Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number 12983, for 45 contact hours.

Registered Environmental Health Specialists
This course has been approved for 45 contact hours, REHS. The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) UC Berkeley is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) Program Continuing Education Accreditation Agency approved by the California Department of Public Health.

Occupational Therapists
Occupational Therapists may be eligible to earn up to 45 contact hours for this course. Visit for more information.​

Industrial Hygienists
ABIH® Diplomates may be eligible to earn up to 45 contact hours for this course. Visit maintain-certification/cm-credit-education-events for more information.

Certified Safety Professionals
Certified Safety Professionals may be eligible to earn up to 45 contact hours for this course. Visit for more information.



Registration Cancellation Policy

Written cancellation notification must be received no later than one week before the start date of an Online Ergonomics Program class in which you are registered in order to qualify for a refund, less a $65.00 administrative fee per registration. Substitute attendees are welcome.

Transfer Policy

You can transfer your registration and payment to a later Online Ergonomics Program class one (1) time with no penalty within ten days of the start date of a class. Subsequent transfers will incur a $65.00 administrative fee per registration. Course Credits must be used within 12 months and are not transferable.

Course Withdrawal Policy

Within the first ten days of an Online Ergonomics Program class, you may withdrawal from the class and receive a refund, less 10% of your course payment. There is no tuition refund following the tenth day of the start date of a class.

Class Cancellation Policy

In the unlikely event that an Online Ergonomics Program class must be cancelled, the entire submitted registration fee will be refunded without further liability on the part of COEH. COEH is not responsible for travel or other costs incurred by students for canceled classes.