Régis MOLLARD :
Physiologist, PhD in Anthropometry and Natural Sciences. Professor in Ergonomics at Paris 5. Head of LAA and UPRES Ergonomie. Scientific Advisor at Medical of Department of INSEP (French Institute for Sports). Responsible of Diploma in Ergonomics, Human Factors in air transport and Biomedical Sciences.
Main research topics : human morphology and modelling, fatigue, attention and stress in transports, human behavior assessment, shiftwork in transports and industry.
[Su]: Can you appraise the Sino-French symposium, which has been held over ten years, and what are your expectations to it in the future?
[Mollard]: Sino-French Symposia have been initiated in 1991 on a proposal of Professor Alex COBLENTZ to promote mutual cooperations between researchers in Ergonomics and Human Factors from ROC and France. The principle was to have bi-annual meetings focussed on special topics, with oral contributions and panel discussions between the delegates from both countries. Symposia were not designed as workshops than large conferences. This way of exchange was and still is very fruitful to create mutual cooperation. One of the positive results is the welcome of taïwanese researchers at Paris 5 for 6 to 12 month periods. Another important issue is the exchange of methods and common approaches : 3-D anthropometry, alertness and fatigue assessments,… This year we have enlarged the cooperation with delegates from TNO-NL (Nico DELLEMAN is also visiting professor at Paris 5) and from the French board of investigations for accidents (Olivier FERRANTE and Pierre JOUNIAUX from BEA). Cognitive ergonomics and new technologies are also more discussed with the involvement of Christian BASTIEN from Paris 5. I think the next years will be marked by new cooperations in Traffic Safety (with ASC and BEA), Cognitive Ergonomics and cultural differences, 3-D surface anthropometry (within the WEAR group), numerical manikins and Virtual Reality (with TNO). Next Sino-French Symposium will be organized joined to WEAR meeting and IEA conference in Maastrich. So we will see how all there projects are developed. I am very optimist on the success of these cooperations.
[Su]: In your opinion, what are the similarities and differences in the development on the theory and application of Ergonomics between French and Taiwan?
[Mollard]: I don't see a lot of differences between French and Taïwanese approaches. We are developing the same kind of research. Topics are more or less the same ones. This is logical : Ergonomics studies are the results of new questions that araise due to new socio-economical contexts, new technologies and new working conditions, and all these aspects are present in all countries having the same economical development. May be the French approach of Ergonomics is more centred on task and activity analysis, than the Human Factors approach promoted by researchers from US countries. However, the review of contributions at IEA conferences suggests the differences are more and more smaller, if they still exist !
[Su]: Can you introduce the establishment objective, the feature, and the operational mechanism (including staff, financial support, and norm) of LAA at Paris 5?
[Mollard]: LAA at Paris 5 is a team of the Unit of Ergonomics (UPRES Ergonomie EA 1753) that also includes another team, LEI, more focussed on cognitive ergonomics. LAA is developing research more related to physiological ergonomics, but links and joined works are now developed by LAA-LEI as questions are generally relevant for both teams. LAA is composed of 3 full time teachers (1 professor and 2 assistant professors), 2 visiting professors, 1 part time professor, 3 PhD students, 2 post doctoral researchers (and this year 1 taïwanese PhD student). We have technical and administrative support (5 persons) and trainees in Ergonomics (2 or 3 per year). Ergonomic and Human Factor specialists (4) are also working within the Lab on projects supported by contracts from industry or government. Financial support is mainly composed of contracts and only a small part (10%) is coming from the Ministry of Education. A review of research activities is made each 4-year period when the University is renewing its agreement with the Ministry. At this time, we have to summarize our past work during the 4-year period and propose the general project for the 4 next ones.
[Su]: What are your ideas of Ergonomic issues
[Mollard]: Issues are may be not so new but the trend could be more cooperative researches with specialists from other fields, as Safety for instance. New technologies, more automation, virtual environment, quick transformation of our way of life are a challenge for Human Factors and Ergonomics specialists from all around the world.
[Su]:Can you introduce the establishment objective, the feature, and the operational mechanism (including staff, financial support, and norm) of TNO in Holland?
[Nico]: I suggest you go to www.tno.nl, click on the English flag at the left, click on ‘About us’, and then for instance on ‘Frequently asked questions’, or Mission’. Go back to the home page and click on ‘Defence and public safety’. TNO Human Factors, my institute, is one of the 15 institutes of TNO. Click on ‘TNO Human Factors’, click on ‘About TNO Human Factors’, and click on ‘Operational Performance’ successively. I hope that you can build a text from all that information.
[Su]:Would you please share with us your professional knowledge and experience in the combination of theory and application in Ergonomics?
[Nico]: I suggest you have a look at my CV attached. In short, I can tell you that I got interested in physical ergonomics about halfway during my study Human Movement Sciences. That would about 20-25 years ago. My first job at a university was theoretical work on low back biomechanical models that are used for evaluating heavy physical work like lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling. At TNO my attention shifted to my first main topic of research (theory and application in industry on for instance sewing, VDU work, maintenance, and machinery operation), i.e., the evaluation of static working postures and repetitive work. This episode is best characterised by my PhD ‘Working postures – prediction and evaluation’ (free copies still available), international standardisation work in CEN and ISO, various publication in peer-reviewed journals ands books (refer to the reference list attached), and the forthcoming book mentioned in the CV (June 2004). About six years ago I moved to my current position at TNO Human Factors, where my second topic of research emerged, i.e., simulation-based design ergonomics, or in other words, implementing ergonomics knowledge early in design, using digital human models and immersive Virtual Environment techniques. As TNO focuses on applied research, there are always theoretical, more academic aspects and application aspects in our work.
[Su]: Can you describe the development in Ergonomics in Holland?
[Nico]: Ergonomics in Holland has roughly at history of 50 years, mainly based on the work in university centres, TNO, and a few major companies like Philips and Hoogovens (steel producer). The International Ergonomics Association was founded in Holland. Ergonomics is embedded in occupational health and safety activities. In recent years we have seen some interesting changes taking place, that is, for instance a shift to address more work performances issues, the introduction of ergonomics in business administration courses, ergonomists becoming business consultants, emerging digital tools connecting ergonomics to designers’ practice, and more attention on pleasure aspects in product design.
[Su]:Take the model of the Sino-French symposium as a reference, in what way and what issues we(Holland and Taiwan) can have further discussions and opportunities of cooperation in the field of Ergonomics?
[Nico]: I would like to work on giving researchers and students from Taiwan the opportunity to work for a distinct period at TNO. Basically, there are many topics that one can think of, but having in mind the presentations and discussions during meetings so far, I would say that digital technology has the attention of many of us. That refers for instance to the use of digital ergonomics tools in design of products and production lines, the use of information and communication technology for instance in various transport means, and to the use of drive-by-wire technology.