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Kathryn Woodcock

Kathryn Woodcock

EducationPhD, CCPE, ICAE, PEng
OfficeDCC-313, Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex
Areas of ExpertiseAmusement rides and attractions; Human error analysis; Accident analysis, investigation and causal reasoning; Safety inspection; Accessibility and inclusive design.

Dr. Woodcock is unavailable to supervise Occupational and Public Health (MSc) students in 2024-2025.

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is a Professor in the School of Occupational and Public Health and since 2002, director of the THRILL Lab (Tools for Holistic Ride Inspection Learning and Leadership) involved in unique extracurricular training, research, and knowledge mobilization activities focused on human factors of amusement rides and attractions, and passionate about engaging the next generation of professionals.

Dr. Woodcock teaches accident theory, safety evaluation techniques, and systems management in Toronto Met's undergraduate Occupational Health and Safety program, and themed entertainment design and technology in the Master of Digital Media program. She also produces and directs the Invitational Thrill Design Competition presented by Universal Creative™ for interdisciplinary postsecondary student teams. Through the lab and its partners in industry, she facilitates field trip experiences to observe Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) inspections of the Canadian National Exhibition and tour other industry facilities with students from a variety of academic programs.

Her research focuses on human factors engineering in designed public spaces and activities, particularly in the domain of amusement attractions, and her projects include accident and error analysis, task demand modelling, and interface design, pertaining to guests, operators, and inspectors. She is extensively involved in Knowledge Transfer and Exchange activities in the attractions industry including professional training and standards development and consulting to designer/ manufacturers and owner/ operators. She was the principal applicant establishing the Mixed-reality Immersive Motion Simulator facility, and has also studied and published on health and work issues of deafness, disability, sign language interpretation and accessibility. Her research, innovation, and service have been published in over 75 peer-reviewed chapters, journal articles and conference papers and over 200 other presentations and publications for both industry and professional audiences.

Dr. Woodcock is a member of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), and serves on Ontario TSSA Amusement Devices Advisory Council, Executive Committee of ASTM Committee F24 and AIMS International Board of Directors, and executive of Themed Experience and Attractions Academic Society and Chair of the Journal of Themed Experience and Attractions Studies. She chairs the International Amusement Accessibility Task Group collaboration of ASTM and IAAPA.

She is a registered Professional Engineer, IAAPA Certified Attraction Executive, Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist, and a Fellow of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists. She earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Systems Design Engineering at University of Waterloo, and PhD in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at University of Toronto, all specializing in human factors engineering.

Through the 1980's, she was a hospital vice-president who led a 600-person division through significant structural and strategic systems change and managed a $20 million budget (1990 dollars), while playing an active role in the Ontario Hospital Association and its province-wide safety association through the early years of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and establishment of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Early Return to Work programs.

Following her doctoral studies and prior to joining Toronto Met, she taught industrial and systems engineering and ergonomics at University of Waterloo and Rochester Institute of Technology (New York), and managed a research and policy unit in the Prevention Division of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board of Ontario.

Dr. Woodcock has served on a wide variety of other local, provincial, national and international boards and councils including the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council for Ontario and Boards of The Canadian Hearing Society, the National Captioning Institute, Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology, the Canadian National Exhibition, and others. Dr. Woodcock received the inaugural Safety Impact Award from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority in 2015 and ASTM F24 Appreciation Award in 2017. In addition to awards within the university, her service has also been recognized with honours including the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship and by professional societies and community organizations including the Citizenship Award from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering Alumni Achievement Medal, and I. King Jordan Award from the Association of Late-Deafened Adults. She is the longest tenured Deaf professor in Canada and was the first Deaf woman to receive a PhD in Engineering.

Teaching responsibilities:

  • OHS 323: Accident Theory & Analysis
  • OHS 523: Safety Evaluation Techniques
  • OHS 477: Integrated Disability Management
  • OHS 718: Systems Management I
  • DG 8010: Special Topics in Digital Media - Themed Entertainment Technology and Design

Thesis supervision:

In addition to supervising ENH 766/866 projects in areas related to my teaching or research themes, I welcome inquiries for thesis co-supervision from students in any discipline in the area of themed entertainment and attraction design and engineering. I particularly invite inquiries from graduate applicants qualified for graduate studies in human factors engineering and admission to the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program (MEGP) and Master of Digital Media (MDM) Program.

Research interests:

  • Applying human factors interface design principles to amusement rides (including control interfaces and rider interfaces)
  • Investigation and explanation of human performance in system failure
  • Consumer performance in designed public spaces, particularly forced-pace tasks
  • Safety inspection decision-making and performance supports

Research projects:

  • Human factors engineering tools for amusement attraction design and evaluation (NSERC Discovery Grant)
  • Human factors design tools for theme park attractions (private)
  • Determining participation eligibility for amusement rides
  • Developing aids for investigating and recording rider error in amusement ride accidents and similar environments
  • Association of Canadian Ergonomists
  • College for Certification of Canadian Professional Ergonomists
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
  • International Society for Occupational Ergonomics and Safety
  • Professional Engineers Ontario
  • Society of Women Engineers
  • ASTM International
  • International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions
  • Themed Entertainment Association
  • National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials
  • Canadian Standards Association
  • Canadian National Exhibition Women of Distinction, 2016
  • Italian Manufacturer Association ANCASVI, Parksmania, and ITA-Italian Trade Agency, PARKSMANIA Career Award, 2016
  • Safety Impact Award, Technical Standards and Safety Authority, Ontario, 2015
  • I. King Jordan Distinguished Achievement Award, Association of Late-Deafened Adults, 2013
  • Fellow, Association of Canadian Ergonomists, 2011
  • Faculty Scholarly Research and Creative (SRC) Activity Award, 2011
  • Faculty Service Award, 2010
  • SOPH Faculty Spirit Award co-recipient, School of Occupational and Public Health course union, 2010
  • Alumni Achievement Medal, University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering, 1996
  • Meritorious Service Award—Community Service, Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, 1993
  • Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship (O.M.C.), 1993
  • Edmund Lyon Memorial Lectureship Award, Rochester Institute of Technology, 1992
  • Citizenship Award—Community Service, Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, 1991