Back to school: HCI & higher education

XII.5 September + October 2005
Page: 33
Digital Citation

Eindhoven’s User-System-Interaction Design Program


Authors:
Maddy Janse, Panos Markopoulos, Patricia Vinken

The User-System Interaction Design Program of the Technical University of Eindhoven (USI program) is a two-year post-master’s program for students who want to become user system interaction designers in R&D organizations. The overall goal of the program is to provide students with the skills and capabilities for conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and evaluating new products, services, and applications that exploit the possibilities of new technologies for the benefit of users in the domain of information and communication technology.

The focus of the program is international and multidisciplinary. Each year a group of some 20 students is accepted for the program. They have a master’s degree or equivalent in the behavioral sciences, mathematics, or engineering disciplines, such as computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, biology, telecommunications, industrial design, and various fields of psychology. The group of students is multinational, 50 percent are Dutch and 50 percent come from a broad variety of countries, such as throughout Europe, Russia, the US, India, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Chile, Venezuela, and Korea.

The curriculum of the USI Program consists of four major components: Curriculum modules; Professional development; Design case; Industrial apprenticeship

The curriculum modules consists of a homologation phase and four major content clusters. These clusters address topics in the domains of: Cognition and Perception, Interaction Technology, Evaluation Methods, User Interface System Technology, and User-Centered Design Process. Each year the content of these modules is reviewed and adapted with regard to new research developments in the domain of user system interaction and new and emerging technologies. The homologation phase is meant to create a common frame of reference for the various specializations. In the homologation phase, students are introduced to the overal field of User-Centered Design, students with a background in behavioral science are introduced to computer science and informatics, and students with a background in engineering are introduced to behavioural sciences. In this phase all students learn some professional skills like programming in FLASH, HTML, JAVA, ESL, and other relevant tools. The curriculum modules are structured in two-week periods. In these periods, students get an overall overview of the topic and practical experience. They work in small multidisciplinary, multicultural teams on practical assignments and case studies. The students have an unlimited access to modern laboratory equipment and relevant software applications.

The professional development component of the USI program provides students with the necessary skills and attitudes expected from professionals. They receive training in, for example, presentation and discussion skills, working together in a multi-cultural context, technical writing and editing, project management, and time management. This part of the curriculum has personalized components and adapts to individual needs.

In the design case, students have to cover a complete transition from user requirements analysis, to design, prototype and concept evaluation. They work in teams of four to five people for a period of six weeks. Each design case has a project owner. This implies that each design case follows the regular pattern of a project, with milestones, progress reporting, and presentation of results. Several of these design cases have been or will be presented at professional organisations (CHI, MobileHCI, ACE, BCS-HCI).

The industrial apprenticeships are carried out at companies and research institutions. This is a nine-month period in which the students work independently on an assignment. These projects are supervised by professionals from the companies and the university. They have to fit the pattern of a formal project including the milestones, the progress reporting, and the presentation of results to different stakeholders.

The USI students receive a grant from the Dutch government equivalent to a limited-term salaried position, including tuition waiver and employee benefits. About 20 positions are available each year. Companies pay the university a flat fee for the projects that are carried out by the USI students.

Authors

Maddy Janse
Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands
m.d.janse@tue.nl

Panos Markopoulos
Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands
p.markopoulos@tue.nl

Patricia Vinken
Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands
m.j.p.vinken@tue.nl

About the Authors:

Dr. Maddy D. Janse joined Philips Research in 1987. Her main research interests are in human factors, human perception and behavior, user interface design for easy access and interaction, and methodologies for subjective evaluation of consumer systems and applications. She has been working in numerous EU-IST projects as a scientist and project manager. She is managing director of the post-graduate master’s program in User-System Interaction at the Eindhoven University of Technology. She holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 1983.

Dr. Panos Markopoulos is an assistant professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Having worked on a wide range of topics in the field of human-computer interaction, his current research interests concern Awareness Systems, Privacy in Ambient Intelligence, and Usability Testing with Children.

Patricia Vinken joined the User System Interaction program in 2001. In her position as coordinator she is responsible for the daily management of the USI program. She enjoys the contacts with (multicultural) students and teachers, and the pleasant connections the program has with industry. She holds a background in economics and communication in commerce.

©2005 ACM  1072-5220/05/0900  $5.00

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