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Extending Application of Human Factors in Amusement

The THRILL Program (Tools for Holistic Ride Inspection Learning and Leadership) is studying the application of human factors engineering (also called ergonomics) to enhance amusement rides and attractions. THRILL research projects include human factors of control interfaces, rider behaviour, and safety inspection and accident investigation. THRILL investigators will develop and evaluate tools to help safety inspectors evaluate, approve, and inspect rides and maximize feedback from accidents and unsatisfactory performance.

THRILL is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC, external link), the Ryerson University Ontario Work-Study Program, the Office of the Dean of Community Services, the Faculty of Community Services One-Time-Only Fund, and a generous donation from Saferparks. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) of Ontario has provided scholarships to THRILL graduate students and valued practical assistance.

THRILL Lab Thanks The Ex!

Continuing an annual tradition, students who spent the summer in the THRILL Lab put on their hard hats, safety shoes and high-visibility vests and stepped into the construction zone at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The field trip to the CNE has become a highlight for students of human factors and other engineering branches and Ryerson’s unique-in-Canada bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety. During the construction of the fair, students shadow certified amusement device inspectors from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), a not-for-profit organization that regulates technology relevant to public safety, including amusement devices, throughout Ontario.

Students learn how current amusement ride technology works and meet the regulators, owner-operators, and consultants who make this industry safe and enjoyable. During the 18-day show, Canada’s largest fair and one of the top 10 fairs in North America attended by over 1.2 million guests, students observe how children and adults interact with amusement devices to gain an understanding of the importance of designing for real people.

THRILL Lab researchers, led by Dr. Kathryn Woodcock, a professional engineer (P.Eng.) and Canadian certified professional ergonomist (CCPE), are studying future developments for amusement devices for enhanced “show” and guest experience, easier to use control interfaces, and quicker expertise development for new inspectors. Many THRILL lab trainees are interested in careers in the amusement industry, an important part of the tourism sector with few formal academic programs available focused on this industry.