Cognitive engineering combines system engineering and cognitive ergonomics.

Ergonomics means the study of work. Cognitive ergonomics means studying mental work.
Unlike design thinking where people are in the office trying to imagine human work and problems in committee, the cognitive engineer first makes a cognitive analysis of the task.

Cognitive analysis of the task (Cognitive Task Analysis) is to observe one by one the users, ideally in the work environment, doing their work and asking them to think aloud. Observations are recorded and verbatim analyzed. The cognitive analysis includes the analysis of goals and subgoals, information consulted, knowledge, decisions and actions performed. The problems that are encountered and effective strategies are analyzed.


Following the cognitive analysis of the task, the cognitive engineer simulates or models the solutions using interactive prototypes to validate the solutions iteratively

There are interrelations between how people process information and how information is organized in the system.

Consequently, the cognitive engineer must master the sciences and techniques for realization, be it an electronic, mechanical or computer system. Cognitive engineer will continue specify the system from the prototypes of interface.

It is very rare to find people interested in mastering both fields but more and more there are system engineers who understand that by mastering the cognitive ergonomics they will be more efficient for the specification of systems.