College of Engineering / Center for Occupational Safety, Ergonomics, and Injury Prevention / About / Program History


Program History

The ISE Department at Auburn University has had a continuous history of instruction in OSE since the early 1950s. A formal undergraduate ‘occupational safety option’ was offered from 1972-79. This program received financial support via NIOSH from 1972-1977. When the department's graduate program was developed in the mid-1960s, ergonomics was identified as one of the "pockets of excellence" for emphasis. As the graduate program matured, advanced courses and research activities in occupational safety were developed such that the original ergonomics-oriented "pocket of excellence" evolved into a fully integrated OSE program. NIOSH support of the graduate program as a component of the Deep South Education and Research Center (ERC) began in October 1981 and has continued uninterrupted ever since.

Today, Master’s level OSE training is provided in both non-thesis (MISE degree) and thesis (MS degree) formats, while doctoral (PhD) training requires completion of a dissertation. A non-degree graduate certificate option (OSEGC) is also available. All degree and non-degree options are offered via on-campus and distance. Participation as part of the Deep South ERC, which is made possible by NIOSH funding, has significantly strengthened the program by providing interdisciplinary interaction for both students and faculty with trainees in complementary programs at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) as well as at other ERCs. Quality students are attracted to the program, and thus to the OSE field, by the availability of tuition and stipend support. Students are encouraged to participate in professional activities, such as providing scholarly presentations at national professional meetings, and pursue professional certifications (ASP/CSP; AEP/CPE). These professional activities are the direct result of NIOSH funding and the ERC environment in which the students participate. In addition, NIOSH funds have been used, in part, to bring highly respected safety professionals and faculty members from other ERCs and institutions with safety and health programs to campus to participate in seminars and interact with faculty and students. This interaction extends to students and faculty from the entire ISE Department, interested faculty and students from across campus, and working professionals from the surrounding community.