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President's Newsletter November 2015

Date:Nov 2015

A joy of serving the IEA is that it gives opportunities to visit conferences organized by member societies. Eric Ming-yan Wang, a past President of the IEA, made more than thirty international trips during his term (2012-2015). I am not sure if I can make that many, but I assure you that I will try to visit member societies as often as possible. I also assure you that we are willing to upload news on member societies’ activities to the IEA website, even when I or other officers cannot be involved in those activities directly. I believe it is beneficial for all member societies to share their experiences. I hereby ask all member societies to let us know their activities: Please post the information to VPSG@iea.cc with a C.C. to President@iea.cc.

In late October, I made my first visit to a conference organized by the Algerian Ergonomics Society: The 3rd International Conference on the Application of Ergonomics in Developing Countries: Reality and Perspective (October 26-27, 2015, at the Hotel El Riadh, Sidi Fredj, Algiers).

The Algerian Ergonomics Society is not yet officially a member of the IEA, but they are said to be in the final stage of registration by their government. It is my understanding that soon they will satisfy the criteria for becoming a member of the IEA family. The conference was hosted by Prof. Dr. Hamou Boudrifa, who is at the Laboratory of Prevention and Ergonomics, the University of Algiers 2.

In this newsletter, I summarize the conference as well as my impressions. A report by the Algerian Ergonomics Society is linked to this newsletter. I also briefly describe another visit to Africa, which I made in 2014 when I was in a previous term as IEA Vice President & Treasurer.

According to the report provided by the Algerian conference organizer, the number of participants was between 100-120 each day, which included participants from eleven (11) countries: Algeria, France, Ghana, Italy, India, Japan, Morocco, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Tunisia. Both keynote speeches and scientific programs covered topics in diverse areas, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of ergonomics. It was a national conference, but it was really an international conference. I admired the fact that the conference provided such an interactive opportunity for people who shared common scientific interests and practical issues. It was nice that simultaneous translation was available in three languages: Arabic, French and English. It certainly facilitated mutual understanding.

It was also good to know that interactions between industry and academia were becoming a trend. I understood that companies are employing more ergonomists and interacting more with researchers from the universities.

What struck me most among other things was that so many young people participated in the conference. They were eager and showed very sincere attitudes in their scientific research. I really enjoyed interacting with them during breaks, lunches, and in the hotel lobby. I was interviewed by a TV crew, which I understood as a sign of growing interest in ergonomics in the region. In other words, I sensed ‘African energy,’the same feeling I had in my visit to Tunisia in 2014: ErgoAfrica, Formed in Hammamet, Tunisia.

Besides attendance at the conference, my travel to Algeria was highlighted by interactions with Algerian stakeholders. We (the IEA officers) define reaching out for stakeholders as one important mission.

Despite his tight schedule, Prof. H. Aourag, the General Director of the General Directorate for Scientific Research and Technological Development (Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research) kindly met with me in his office. I was impressed with the deep understanding that Prof. Aourag showed about the values of ergonomics. He also expressed his intention to support the development of ergonomics in Algeria.

I enjoyed a visit to the Society National of Electricity & Gas (Sonelgaz) (Ministry of Energy), which is the second largest company in Algeria. Mr. Boussourdi Abedelkader, the General Supervisor of Sonelgaz and his colleagues met with me. They showed a strong interest in ergonomics, agreed to maintain a relationship with the IEA, and invited us to their plants on our future visits. I was impressed that they frankly admitted that the safety is a real concern.

I will visit Chile in November and India in December. More will be forthcoming about interactions with member societies.