Report IEA congress 2006
IEA2006 in brief
In 2006 the 16th IEA congress was held from 10-14 July in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
In four and a half days the most recent information in ergonomics from over the whole
world was exchanged. The congress venue looked like a market place where ergonomists
and users of ergonomics could meet and interact. More than 1,350 participants from 59
countries attended. The program offered 18 keynotes, 30 interactive workshops, more
than 1,000 papers, several professional visits, tens of committee meetings, and a dozen
The congress was organized on behalf of the International Ergonomics Association by
the Dutch Ergonomics Society, in collaboration with the Belgian and German Ergonomics
Societies and the Federation of European Ergonomics Societies.
Impression of the congress
After years of preparations the congress was held from 10-14 July. Formal meetings of the IEA Council and Executive Committee were held in the days before the congress.
The welcome reception was the start for a most interactive congress, with a splendid atmosphere. A traditionally dressed group treated the attendees on a live visualization of Rembrandt’s famous painting 'The Night watch'. The opening reception was held in the expo foyer, where tens of sponsors and exhibitors showed recent developments in ergonomic products and services.
On Monday morning, the opening ceremony had a different program than most participants expected. The setting was a stage in between two large halls. On stage chairs and tables were placed suggesting a terrace; Maastricht is famous for its lively terraces. Awardees were sitting there, making the setting lively.
Erik Brey, a Dutch musical artist, teased the audience with dazzling music illustrating the diversity of cultures amongst the participants: from Bossanova to French Chansons, love songs from many countries like Germany and Hawaii, and a real Dutch song.
Congress Chair Ernst Koningsveld showed the diversity in congress experiences amongst all those present; from first time congress participants to well experienced ones. 'And all are nervous when entering the stage'. Eight of the 2007 participants attended the 1973 IEA congress in Amsterdam.
IEA president Pierre Falzon held a most interesting presentation titled ‘Constructive Ergonomics’ followed by Philips Luminaires’ CEO René van Schooten with an interesting vision on the role of lighting on human performance.
The IEA awards ceremony set tens of people in the footlights.
All congress venue's rooms were under one roof, so the 1,350 participants could easily meet each other in the corridors and at the exhibition. The breaks were predominantly held at the exhibition, which turned out to be a very good idea. Both participants and exhibitors were enthusiastic about this. Eleven main sponsors and 25 other exhibitors showed new trends in ergonomics, and were open for comments and suggestions on their products and visions.
More than 1,000 presentations were held in more than 200 sessions, most of which were very well visited. Some rooms were rather small, but as ergonomists are inventive, in most cases a solution was found. The corridors offered enough space for the more than 200 posters.
The IEA Technical Group themes corresponded with the headlines in the program. Many IEA TG-chairs acted as moderators of these sessions; some of these had the character of mini conferences within the congress.
The 18 plenary papers were well attended, and gave good and new information on important subtopics of ergonomics.
About 30 interactive sessions were held in the late afternoon time slots. Here, people could discuss, play roles, or act in hands on settings.
Many participants reported that the quality of most sessions and papers were above their expectations.
Most of the IEA committees had meetings to discuss the progress in their expertise. The IEA board met with representatives of WHO, ILO, ICOH, IOHA, and discussed future trends, under which activities in industrially developing countries.
The 4½ day congress ended with four summaries of important trends in the congress in physical ergonomics (Allard van der Beek), product development (Lina Bonapace), organizational development and management (Laerte Sznelwar), and in marketing ergonomics (Glen Gallaway).
Another ‘jig sawed’ medley of music by Erik Brey ended the intensive week of interaction.
The weather during the congress week was exceptional warm and nice; in the evenings many participants met on the Maastricht terraces, some till very late in the night.
Ernst A.P. Koningsveld
IEA2006 Congress Chair