re: Degree for IxD or related

10 Sep 2004 - 4:21am
10 years ago
4 replies
435 reads
H Taylor
2004

Hi Mark.

I've looked around at IxD related education a bit. While I certainly
haven't been completely exhaustive, most of it seems to be at grad
school level. I believe there are a few undergraduate programs
(Rensselaer's "Minds and Machines" program, for instance), but I'm not
sure how many people you'll find how have "IxD" undergraduate degrees.

The "or related" part opens up some opportunities for you, however. I
would look for:

- psychology majors who have taken an interest in cognition and/or
human factors and/or industrial psychology

- industrial designers

- architects

- media/communications folks (possibly, depending on the role)

You don't really specify the nature of the role your trying to fill, so
it's hard to guess what sorts of skills are most important for your
envirornment. In any event, however, aside from those (presumably) rare
few who are coming out of a multi-disciplinary undergrad program and
may have actually been trained in diverse/hybrid disciplines, you are
going to have to do a fair amount of individual assessment, because you
mostly just need people who "get it", which can be hard to quantify.
Looking at those who have recently completed undergrad degrees, most
probably won't have real training in all areas likely to be relevant,
nor will they have assembled much professional experience, to develop
(and demonstrate) their abilities.

One shore plug for architects, as that was my area of undergraduate
study: ideally, a good architecture program offers students exposure to
a number of things, including abstract analysis and problem solving
through design, user observation, prototyping and iterative processes
and an understanding of how to use technology to support design goals.
Many architects go on to apply these skills in fields outside of
traditional architecture (for a number of reasons, not the least of
which is that opportunities within architecture are often limited).

I would be interested to hear from others on the list about other
fields that they see as relevant and also about other
undergraduate-level IxD-related programs, about which I may not be
aware.

- Hal

> My company is currently looking to bring in college recruits to our
> newly created user experience department. I was hoping we could go
> after field experienced or grad school candidates, but we're focusing
> on undergrad folks for now (HR related hiring quotas).
>
> Does anyone know of colleges that are offering a BA, BS or whatever in
> interaction design / usability engineering / user experience planning
> or the related fields of study?
>
> Additionally, if you were looking to hire recent college grads what
> backgrounds, skill sets, experiences would you be interested in?
>
> Many thanks,
> Mark
>

Comments

10 Sep 2004 - 5:56am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

> I would be interested to hear from others on the list about other
> fields that they see as relevant and also about other
> undergraduate-level IxD-related programs, about which I may not be
> aware.
>
> - Hal

I believe that Cognitive Science (if exists at undergrad level) is in the
long term better than specialised HCI-worded degree. For the same reason as
architecture: typically, it gives a better training in abstract thinking.
Plus, CogSci gives a good training in experimental psychology and many
courses teach programming (mine included compulsory modules in Prolog and
C/C++, on top of software engineering for AI).

Experimental Psychology on itself is a good shot, since a good Exp.Psy.
degree would not only teach how to conduct a test, but how to build your
own test platform, including coding.

Lada

10 Sep 2004 - 6:17am
jstanford
2003

Hello,

I am responding to the following comment:

> I would be interested to hear from others on the list about
> other undergraduate-level IxD-related programs, about which I may
> not be aware.

I received an undergraduate degree from Stanford in the Symbolic Systems
program in Human Computer Interaction
(http://hci.stanford.edu/degrees/ssp-concentration.html) which is actually a
great interdisciplinary undergraduate interaction design degree mixing
elements of interaction design, product design, psychology, linguistics,
cognitive science, and computer science. In general, Stanford has a strong
HCI program for grads and undergrads (undergrads in Computer Science also
take courses in the program but they have more programming requirements then
Symbolic Systems folks and don't take linguistics, psychology, and cogntive
science courses as base requirements). This summer we hired a summer intern
from Symbolic Systems HCI program and since I completed the program years
ago, it looks like it has only improved. You can recruit people who have
completed this program at the following link:
http://symsys.stanford.edu:8081/ssp-dynamic/servlet/ssp_jobs

Also, students at Stanford have designed an indvidually designed
undergraduate major called Interaction Design --but because it is not a
formal program but rather something where undergrads can design their own
major, it is harder to find folks with that major. The courses that these
students take overlap with the program described above and generally
contains more product design courses since that program is excellent at
Stanford under supervision from David Kelley of IDEO.

Good luck.

-- Julie Stanford

10 Sep 2004 - 12:21pm
FelcanSmith, Mark
2004

Thanks Hal and all who have provided their insights. I didn't specify
what I was looking for outside of IxD purposely...I didn't want to limit
the potential of the responses.

As I mentioned it is a newly created group and we have the advantage of
an executive champion, however I am limited to very few internal
resources, and will attempt to balance the remaining work w/
contractors. The needs internally are great and varied, and so my
current direction is to go after that broad, yet probably shallow,
experience set. I will be able to provide mentoring to expand their
skills, however I look at this opportunity as one to get a great amount
of coverage on varying projects performing varying activities under the
user-centered design /user experience umbrella: user research/analysis,
information design and architecture, interaction design, usability
engineering, and visual design.

The specific areas of study mentioned are great, but I don't see being
able to have specialists until our department is much more mature and
can then justify those specialties. I do like the architecture program
description below re: coverage, that seems like a natural fit.

I know it sounds like a lot to ask for, but I look back on my own
education as an example (liberal arts). I feel that there are folks out
there who are interested in the diversity and "get it" even if they
don't have much field experience to bring to the table. I'll be happy to
provide the real world experiences, as long as they have the passion to
learn.

FYI other responses received:
>Here in Canada, the University of Toronto offers an HCI stream in its
Mechanical &
>Industrial Engineering programme.

>Don't know if anyone has mentioned this already... But I think
Carnegie Mellon University
>has one of the top rated Human Computer Interaction undergrad
programs... I also think
>University of Maryland has an undergrad program...

-----Original Message-----
From: H Taylor [mailto:taylor at critpath.org]
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 4:22 AM
To: 'Interaction Discussion'; FelcanSmith, Mark
Subject: re: Degree for IxD or related

Hi Mark.

I've looked around at IxD related education a bit. While I certainly
haven't been completely exhaustive, most of it seems to be at grad
school level. I believe there are a few undergraduate programs
(Rensselaer's "Minds and Machines" program, for instance), but I'm not
sure how many people you'll find how have "IxD" undergraduate degrees.

The "or related" part opens up some opportunities for you, however. I
would look for:

- psychology majors who have taken an interest in cognition and/or
human factors and/or industrial psychology

- industrial designers

- architects

- media/communications folks (possibly, depending on the role)

You don't really specify the nature of the role your trying to fill, so
it's hard to guess what sorts of skills are most important for your
envirornment. In any event, however, aside from those (presumably) rare
few who are coming out of a multi-disciplinary undergrad program and
may have actually been trained in diverse/hybrid disciplines, you are
going to have to do a fair amount of individual assessment, because you
mostly just need people who "get it", which can be hard to quantify.
Looking at those who have recently completed undergrad degrees, most
probably won't have real training in all areas likely to be relevant,
nor will they have assembled much professional experience, to develop
(and demonstrate) their abilities.

One shore plug for architects, as that was my area of undergraduate
study: ideally, a good architecture program offers students exposure to
a number of things, including abstract analysis and problem solving
through design, user observation, prototyping and iterative processes
and an understanding of how to use technology to support design goals.
Many architects go on to apply these skills in fields outside of
traditional architecture (for a number of reasons, not the least of
which is that opportunities within architecture are often limited).

I would be interested to hear from others on the list about other
fields that they see as relevant and also about other
undergraduate-level IxD-related programs, about which I may not be
aware.

- Hal

10 Sep 2004 - 4:00pm
H Taylor
2004

Agreed; that's why included psych (and specifically cognitive) but
didn't mention HCI (but perhaps you're referring to mention of
Rensselaer's "Minds and Machines", which appears to be more HCI than
IxD).

In fairness, though, I wouldn't necessary rule out HCI students,
depending on the particular nature of the role one was trying to fill.
And I can certainly imagine the possibility of an HCI program crossing
over into IxD, though I'm not really familiar enough with any to make
this claim authoritatively. In fact, I'm not really sure how much HCI
is available at the undergraduate level, anyway, though I'm sure there
is *some*.

- Hal

Lada quipped:

> I believe that Cognitive Science (if exists at undergrad level) is in
> the
> long term better than specialised HCI-worded degree. For the same
> reason as
> architecture: typically, it gives a better training in abstract
> thinking.
> Plus, CogSci gives a good training in experimental psychology and many
> courses teach programming (mine included compulsory modules in Prolog
> and
> C/C++, on top of software engineering for AI).

<snipped>

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