First Semester Week at the Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics

  Person watches an assembly simulation via a VR headset © FlexDeMo

The Departments Showed Current Research Projects


Every year in the winter semester, new students come to RWTH Aachen University. During the well-known “Ersti-Woche”, students have the opportunity to get to know the institutes of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in order to gain insights into current research projects. At the Institute of Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics, projects from the individual departments were shown, so the students could actively experience current research.

For the Technical Vocational Education and Training Department, the FeDiNAR project participated with its demonstrator of a torque spanner. Using the demonstrator, the students were able to playfully experience how force transfer works. With the applied gamification approach, they were asked to “hand-tighten” a screw with an electronic torque spanner and compete against each other to see who came closest to achieving the specified goal. Of course, there were prizes for the best, including mugs from the institute and pencils with the RWTH logo. Things that can be handy for any student at the beginning of the semester!

The department of Work Organization was also represented with the project “FlexDeMo” and gave the students exciting insights into the virtual world of assembly simulation. The students learned first-hand about the possibilities and limitations of material flow simulation by immersing themselves in the simulation models of the exemplary assembly systems with the help of a VR (Virtual Reality) headset. In the process, they were able to identify weak points in the assembly systems themselves and suggest possible solutions!

The department of Ergonomics and Human-Machine Systems presented the self-developed “ErgoCam”. The system calculates and visualizes the compression load on the L5/S1 intervertebral disc in real time. The students were able to interact with the camera system and optimize the lifting of an 11 kg suitcase in terms of back-friendliness. After the execution of the lifting activity was analyzed, further improvement measures for the exemplary working environment could be developed. The students, thus, learned the basics of an ergonomic risk assessment.

Also presented was the Exploroscope of the academic and research department for balanced Human Systems Integration. Here, the students could first experience a car door in a tangible extended reality (tangible XR) – wearing VR headsets and simultaneously interacting with objects in the real world, which then change or move accordingly in the virtual environment. Afterwards, the students were given the opportunity to do a few laps in the driving simulator and try out novel steering concepts (e.g. gesture control & alternative control elements).