An Ohio University student engineering team has placed second of 29 teams nationwide in an ergonomics evaluation software competition sponsored by Auburn Engineers, Inc., of Auburn, Alabama.
The five industrial and systems engineering majors used Auburn Engineers' software "eTools" to diagnose potential musculoskeletal problems among marching band members – and won $200 each.
The H-Factor Team's leader, Ecstasy Adkins, along with grad student Warnaka Gunawardena and undergrads Marie Gamble, Amy Goodnite and Aaron Pidcock worked on the problem during fall quarter 2011 in addition to their usual coursework.
They observed marching band practices and identified six to ten groupings with similar risk factors—such as a particular motion, stance or instrument use that could pose possible health risks for users – for further analysis.
"We attended band practices and studied individual members of the band playing the instruments to identify potential ergonomic risks," Gunawardena said.
The students then had to develop solutions for those risks, conduct a cost study, and prepare a report that detailed potential injury risk groups and summarized risk assessment and possible remediation.
Team advisor Diana Schwerha, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, said the students benefited greatly from participating.
"I'm a big proponent of undergraduate research – it stretches students outside of usual coursework," she said.
Schwerha added that she liked the competition because of how little involvement she had – she wasn't allowed to assist in any way.
"It was a really great opportunity for students to work independently," said Schwerha. "Auburn wanted students to work like ergonomics consultants."
Gunawardena agreed that the project was entirely in the group's hands.
"It was late night hours most of the time," he explained. "Going to bed at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. was nothing unusual during the competition."
Two other teams, Teams PAT and Triceraptorergodonasaurus received honorable mentions.