MARRAS ELECTED TO NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING
A career devoted to preventing workplace injuries has earned William Marras the highest professional distinction accorded to an engineer.
Marras, professor and Honda Endowed Chair in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Ohio State University, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for “developing methods and models used to control costs and injuries associated with manual work in industry.”
"With this election, the National Academy has recognized William Marras' seminal research in biomechanics with a specialty in back and wrist issues,” said Gregory Washington, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “We are very proud of this achievement and look forward to providing the infrastructure and support for Bill's continued success."
Marras’ research is critical to workers’ health as well as the industrial economy. More than four million American workers are injured every year by heavy lifting and repetitive stress on the job. Those injuries account for tens of billions of dollars in lost labor and worker compensation, and more than $100 billion in healthcare costs.
Marras has pioneered methods for studying back injury and the other musculoskeletal disorders that afflict workers.
He invented the Lumbar Motion Monitor, a device that measures the movement of the spine. With it, he has uncovered the causes of recurring back injury -- including the psychological stress that influences how workers move on the job.
His research has revealed that wearing back support belts does not prevent back injury, and that businesses should allow more frequent breaks for workers’ muscles to recover throughout a shift.
His interest in musculoskeletal disorders grew out of personal experience, Marras said. A basketball scholarship during his undergraduate career sparked an interest in sports injuries, and a summer job loading paint pallets on a dock inspired him to study workplace injuries.
Now he holds joint appointments in the departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Physical Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering at Ohio State. He directs the university’s Biodynamics Laboratory as well as the Institute for Ergonomics.
But perhaps his biggest achievement to date is the establishment of the Center for Occupational Health in Automobile Manufacturing (COHAM). The one-of-a-kind research center employs cutting-edge analysis methods to protect worker health, reduce worker injuries and optimize high-tech vehicle production.
COHAM is the only university-based, full-scale manufacturing operation in the world where automakers and their suppliers can test the effects of manufacturing systems on workers’ health.
As an Academy member, Marras will advise the federal government on issues of science and engineering. It’s a rare honor; of the 2 million practicing engineers in the United States, only 0.1 percent are members of the NAE.
Members are deemed by their peers to have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature," and to the "pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."
Since the NAE was founded in 1964, 11 Ohio State engineers have become members.
Contact: William Marras, (614) 292-6670; Marras.firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.email@example.com