Date of Award

Winter 1998

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Director

Surendra N. Tiwari

Committee Member

Sushil K. Chaturvedi

Committee Member

Alan T. Pope

Committee Member

Gregory V. Selby

Committee Member

Gene Hou


A novel approach based on the second law of thermodynamics is developed to investigate the psychophysiology and quantify human stress level. Two types of stresses (thermal and mental) are examined. A Unified Stress Response Theory (USRT) is developed under the new proposed field of study called Engineering Psychophysiology. The USRT is used to investigate both thermal and mental stresses from a holistic (human body as a whole) and thermodynamic viewpoint. The original concepts and definitions are established as postulates which form the basis for thermodynamic approach to quantify human stress level. An Objective Thermal Stress Index (OTSI) is developed by applying the second law of thermodynamics to the human thermal system to quantify thermal stress or discomfort in the human body. The human thermal model based on finite element method is implemented. It is utilized as a “Computational Environmental Chamber” to conduct series of simulations to examine the human thermal stress responses under different environmental conditions. An innovative hybrid technique is developed to analyze human thermal behavior based on series of human-environment interaction simulations. Continuous monitoring of thermal stress is demonstrated with the help of OTSI. It is well established that the human thermal system obeys the second law of thermodynamics. Further, the OTSI is validated against the experimental data. Regarding mental stress, an Objective Mental Stress Index (OMSI) is developed by applying the Maxwell relations of thermodynamics to the combined thermal and cardiovascular system in the human body. The OMSI is utilized to demonstrate the technique of monitoring mental stress continuously and is validated with the help of series of experimental studies. Although the OMSI indicates the, level of mental stress, it provides a strong thermodynamic and mathematical relationship between activities of thermal and cardiovascular systems of the human body.