Montana State University

Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

Nicholas J. Ward
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Montana State University
P.O. Box 173800
Bozeman, MT 59717-3800

Tel: (406) 994-5942
Fax: (406) 994-1697
Location: 220 Roberts Hall

Nicholas J. Ward, Ph.D., F.Erg.S.


Dr. Nicholas Ward (F. Erg. S) obtained his Ph.D. in Human Factors psychology from Queen's University (Canada) with a dissertation on driver risk taking at rural railway crossings.  He then spent 10 years conducting Human Factors research in transportation safety and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) at Loughborough University and the University of Leeds.  Dr. Ward moved to the USA as the Director of the human factors research laboratory at the University of Minnesota ( for more than six years.   Since 2007, he has been a tenured Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and a Senior Research Scientist at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University. 

The research areas of Dr. Ward includes (1) the analysis of behavioral risk factors associated with traffic crashes, (2) the design and evaluation of innovative driver support systems to mitigate those risk factors, and (3) the modeling of the psychosocial factors in our traffic safety culture that propagate behavioral risk factors and influence the acceptance (and mandate) for traffic safety policy and interventions. This research has utilized advanced driving simulators and instrumented vehicle fleets as well as traditional research methods including laboratory experiments, surveys, and focus groups.

Dr. Ward is currently teaching courses on work analysis and design, usability engineering and interaction design, and the role of human factors in safety critical systems.  Dr. Ward is also the coordinator of the Graduate Program in Industrial and Management Engineering

During his research career, Dr. Ward has been successful in securing over 12 million dollars in funding from a range of international sources including 
foundation, state and federal funding.  Most recently, Dr. Ward has received support from the US government in relation to the  National Toward Zero Death to research and develop new strategies based on traffic safety culture.  Dr. Ward is a co-founder of the Traffic Safety Culture Summit that is hosted annually by the Western Transportation Institute and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in Big Sky, Montana.

Dr. Ward recently gave
an invited presentation
to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and US Department of Transportation (USDOT) about the potential for a new paradigm of traffic safety interventions based on models of traffic safety culture. 
In 2008, Dr. Ward was honored as a Fellow of Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.  He is currently on the editorial advisory board of Accident Analysis and Prevention and Transportation Research Part F:  Traffic Psychology and Behavior.  Dr. Ward is also an active member of several Transportation Research Board committees including AND30 (Simulation and Measurement of Vehicle and Operator Performance) and AND10 (Vehicle User Characteristics).