Building Sustainable Human-Centered Systems: A Grand Challenge for the Human Factors and Ergonomics Discipline in the Conceptual Age

  • Waldemar Karwowski
Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)

As discussed by National Academy of Engineering (NAE) (2004), technology is both a product and a process involving both science and engineering. Engineering, which seeks to shape the natural world to meet human needs and wants, is a body of knowledge of design and creation of human-made products and a process for solving problems (Wulf 1998). While there has been a relatively weak relationship between scientific advances and technology until the time of the Second Industrial Revolution, today the science, engineering, and technology are making significant contributions to global economic prosperity. For example, it is estimated that about 30–60 % of gross domestic product (GDP) in United States comes from 20–65 % return on investment in science, engineering and technology.

According to L. Creighton (2001) of the American Society of Engineering Education, contemporary society is becoming more technologically challenged and more environmentally sophisticated and industry leaders have to stay current in what is happening on all of those levels. In the not too distant future, the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information technology will most likely impact every facet of society including medicine, health care, computer, information, communication, environment, and the economy, which will only increase the above outlook (National Research Council 2002; Roco and Bainbridge 2003; Sequeira et al. 2006). According to Henry T. Yang, Chancellor, University of California Santa Barbara, “Nanotechnology will mandate a highly multidisciplinary approach in education and research, cutting across the boundaries of chemistry, biology, physics, materials, and all aspects of engineering


Gross Domestic Product Human Factor Grand Challenge Healthy Life Expectancy Human Factor Integration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bacon F (1620) Novum Organum. LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Bieker T (2005) Sustainability Management with the Balanced Scorecard. Institute for Economy and the Environment at the University of St. Gallen (IWOeHSG), St. GallenGoogle Scholar
  3. Bierbaum RM, Holdren JP, MacCracken MC, Moss RH, and Raven PH (2007) Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding The Unmanageable And Managing The Unavoidable. United Nations Foundation, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  4. Creighton L (2001) Competitors Give It Their Best. Prism 11(4):42-43Google Scholar
  5. de Geus A (1997) The Living Company. Harvard Business School Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Duderstadt JJ (2008) Engineering for a Changing World: A Roadmap to the Future of Engineering Practice, Research, and Education. The Millenium Project, University of Michigan, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  7. Fiskel J (2003) Designing Resilient, Sustainable Systems. Environmental Science Technology 37:5330-5339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Friedman TL (2006) The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Expanded and Updated Edition. Farrar, Straus and GirouxGoogle Scholar
  9. Gunderson LH, Pritchard L (2002) Resilience and the Behavior of Large-Scale Systems. Island Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  10. Hamel G,Valikangas L (2003) The quest for resilience. Harvard Business Review 9:52-63Google Scholar
  11. IEA (2000) What is ergonomics. Available from
  12. Karwowski W (2005) Ergonomics and Human Factors: The Paradigms for Science, Engineering, Design, Technology, and Management of HumanCompatible Systems. Ergonomics 48(5):436-463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Karwowski W (2007a) Toward an HF/E Literate Society. Bulletin of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 50(2):1-2Google Scholar
  14. Karwowski W (2007b) Grand Challenges for HFES and Its Place in a Changing World: The next 50 years. Presidential Address at the Human Factors Society 50th Annual Meeting (September 2007). Unpublished presentation, Santa Monica, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  15. McFarlane H (2006) The Greening of Nuclear Energy. Available from
  16. Moray N (1995) Ergonomics and the global problems of the twenty-first century. Ergonomics 38(8):1691-1707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. National Academy of Engineering (2004) The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. The National Academies, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  18. National Research Council (2002) Small Wonders, Endless Frontiers: A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The National Academies, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  19. Pearson G, Young T (2002) Technically speaking: Why all Americans need to know more about technology. The National Academies Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  20. Pink DH (2006) A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future. Riverhead Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Roco MC, Bainbridge WS (2003) Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance. Kluwer Academic Publisher, BostonGoogle Scholar
  22. Scott D, Bergen SMB, Fridley JL (2001) Design principles for ecological engineering. Ecological Engineering 18(2):201-210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sequeira R, Genaidy A, Shell R, Karwowski W, Weckman G, Salem SW (2006) A Nano-enterprise: A survey of health and safety concerns, considerations, and proposed improvement strategies to reduce potential adverse effects. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing 16:343-368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Stiglitz JE (2006) Making Globalization Work. WW Norton & Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) Our Common Future. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  26. Wulf WA (1998) The Urgency of Engineering Education Reform. The Bridge: Linking Engineering and Society 28 (1). Available from

Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Waldemar Karwowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Industrial Engineering and Management SystemsUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

Personalised recommendations