September 22, 2021
A biomedical engineer, behavioral psychologist, industrial engineer, and interactive designer all walk into a… usability laboratory. What do these individuals all have in common? We are a team of human factors professionals, with varying educational, professional, and personal backgrounds.
The combination of our backgrounds results in a highly effective team with exactly the right mix of technical and soft skills that enable us to support design and development of products that are safe and effective. One team member explains, “I think the education I pull from the most is my high school education because there was a huge focus on critical thinking, time management, team dynamics, and interpersonal communication.” Our technical backgrounds connect us through our strong foundations in engineering, psychology, human factors, and more. But what brings us together and empowers us to work together so well is our commitment to the work we do and our shared strong organization, communication, and critical thinking skills.
Let me give you an example: in April, I began working on a project where we conducted a formative usability test of a diabetes guidance app. Our test team included individuals with education in Psychology, Human Factors Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. Each individual brought a background related to critical components of the project, like understanding human behavior, human factors expertise, diabetes physiology, and medical device functionality, which were critical to the understanding and early planning of the project. However, the skills most applicable to the work included the interpersonal skills from the Psychology major, the design thinking mindset from the Human Factors Engineering major, and the attention to detail from the Biomedical Engineering major, all skills picked up through rigorous educational programs.
While Emergo by UL’s HFR&D team comprises individuals with varying backgrounds that distinguish us from one another, our educational diversity produces a team that not only seamlessly allows us to combine our skills and experiences but does so in a way that actually propels us beyond the sum of our parts.
As a recent Biomedical Engineering graduate, I wasn’t sure how applicable my education would be when I joined the team earlier this year. After working closely with and learning from several team members these past few months, I am forever grateful for the implicit support I have received from peers and mentors alike. Through observing and learning from team members as they conduct complex usability tests, I have been able to gain and refine my skills, enabling me to grow into a high-performing human factors professional myself. Through this all, I have seen our team come together to combine our knowledge and experiences exponentially, propelling us forward boundlessly.
Suruchi Batra is Human Factors Associate at Emergo by UL’s Human Factors Research & Design division.