Thirty-nine years ago, Ken Funk traveled from one OSU (The Ohio State University) to another (Oregon State University). He’d just graduated with a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering, and headed west to start his appointment in the (then) Department of Industrial and General Engineering. He would eventually serve as the interim head of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering from 2005 to 2006 as it merged with the Department of Mechanical Engineering to become the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering.
Funk, an associate professor of industrial engineering, retired this past June. “My career at Oregon State was and is my calling,” Funk said. “I can confidently say that I have led and am living (so far!) the ‘Good Life.’ And the environment, the work, my students, and my colleagues have been critical to that.”
Early in his career, Funk taught courses in introductory industrial engineering, computer applications in industrial engineering, senior capstone, probability and statistics, and human factors engineering. More recently he directed his teaching to work systems engineering, the philosophy of technology, and engineering ethics. On the latter subject, he has recently led efforts to raise the level of academic integrity in MIME by investigating and recommending measures to address academic misconduct.
Funk’s research focused on human factors in aviation, manufacturing, healthcare, and military systems, with special emphasis on operator task management and the design of operator interfaces. His work was sponsored by the U.S. Navy, Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, U.S. Army, and Precision Castparts Corporation.
He also worked as a summer faculty fellow, and later as an engineering research psychologist, for the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center, and he served as a National Research Council panelist on a study of state-of-the-art human performance models for use in large-scale military simulations. Funk will still teach engineering ethics and an honors colloquium a few more times, but his major post-retirement plans include spending more time with his wife, Millie, and two daughters, Olivia and Celia; building and tending to things on his hobby farm; increasing his involvement in the music ministry of his church; writing a book, with the working title “Technology and the Good Life;” and finishing a prototype tool to diagnose infectious diseases in west Africa.