Interacting with Classic Design Engineering
Journal article, 2015

Triggered by our occasionally tense field experiences relating to the implementation and institutionalization of usability in design engineering organizations that are characterized by traditional engineering education and thinking, we have earlier suspected that the activities associated with human-centered design were orthogonal to the design engineering practices otherwise in place. While noting that other human factors professionals have had comparable challenges relating to multidisciplinary design, we have, however, reached a point where we rather are suggesting that the ontological, epistemological and methodological grounding of classic design engineering, under some circumstances, could be the direct cause for friction between that discipline and that of human factors. In a way taking our own medicine, we have thus arrived at a place where we are realizing the need for an ethnographical exploration and improved understanding of classic design engineering fundamentals, appreciating that a more successful and fruitful interaction and cooperation with that essential discipline very well could spring from a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the mindset of the classic design engineer. The main part of the present paper pivots around developing such an insight, hoping to contribute to the effective, efficient and satisfactory outcome of multidisciplinary cooperation for those who find themselves being tasked with human-centric work in traditional engineering organizations.


software development methods

user centered-design

ethnographic studies

software design engineering


Erik Styhr Petersen

Lyngsø Marine A/S

Jim Nyce

Ball State University

Margareta Lützhöft

Chalmers, Shipping and Marine Technology, Maritime Human Factors

Interacting with Computers

0953-5438 (ISSN)

Vol. 27 4 440-457

Subject Categories

Software Engineering



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9/6/2018 2