Human Factors Engineer
Sometimes it’s the details people don’t notice that make a vehicle stand out, according to Cary Diehl.
Cary is a Ford Human Factors Engineer, and it’s his team’s job to ensure that all of the interactions that consumers have with their Ford or Lincoln vehicles are comfortable and seamless.
“We’re responsible for the customer’s full experience with the vehicle on a day-to-day basis – not only the physical part but the cognitive part as well,” he said.
That means making sure that things like armrests and door handles are in the right spots and the technology in the vehicle is easy and intuitive to use.
“It can be any experience the customer has from turning a volume knob to operating a gear shifter or a touchscreen,” Cary said. “We work to make it very usable for the customer.”
In order to understand consumer needs, wants and preferences, Cary and his team spend a great deal of time conducting research. Then they host customer clinics where they test and validate different prototypes.
“We have metrics for usability, usefulness and desirability, and we use them to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the customer,” Cary said.
Body of Work: F-150 - Ford's F-150
Cary earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in human factors and ergonomic engineering from the University of Michigan. But his education didn’t stop there.
“After I came to work for Ford, the company sent me to the University of Detroit Mercy and I got a second master’s degree in product development,” he said. “It’s a great testament to Ford for nominating me for a program like that. It’s helped me become more successful.”
One of the things Cary loves most about his job is being able to coach and support others.
“Having the opportunity to coach a team is amazing and really rewarding,” he said. “Now I’m helping guide other engineers to create successful products for the company as well.”
When he’s not working, Cary enjoys buying and restoring sailboats. In many ways, the way he approaches his hobby mirrors his work at Ford.
“I think about how people are going to use the boats, what will appeal to them and what will make them feel comfortable, and I keep all of that in the back of my head as I do the restoration,” he explained.
It’s all in the details.