A Human Biological Machine, extremely complicated

Johanna Isoaho

The project OSPE has closely been linked with the renovation of the Curriculum at the Turku University Faculty of Information Technology. Special attention has been given to the new slogan ”An Engineer Meets a Human”.
Most of us have been trying to use different ”gadgets” engineered by engineers to other engineers as well as tried to make sense out of many hundred pages of a manual, which has again been written by an engineer to others of the similar kind.

It has been a known fact for a long time, that it is a very hard task for an engineer to really understand the ”end-user”, the average human who tries to use the products. This problem can be reached from many directions: how to understand the human-aspect, how to learn to have real and effective interpersonal skills, how to work in the projects which nowadays demand cooperation with different occupations. A very good example of the last one are the projects which are done in the area of healthcare The area of expertise of an engineer does not cover the whole work; only the technical part. The Capstone-projects have been developed for this purpose: learn to work effectively with the experts of another field.

We have had lectures included into different courses about ” The Human Element”. The goal has been to give a basis to understand human beavior, differences and how this everchanging element might affect the work of the future engineers. These lectures include a group task and the meeting with the lecturer, during which the task is discussed. It goes without saying, that this is more complicated a task for the first-year students, than the students in the master program.

Before the lecture a simple question has been asked ”Describe the Human Element”. The answers have been from curios, funny, strange to actually quite good descriptions about people. One of the striking notions is that these students have a tendency to understan the human aspect somewhat machine-like. One of the most descriptive of this kind was:” A Human Biological Machine, extremely complicated”.

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