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The Curriculum

Learn about core and elective classes that create the MHCI+D experience

Our philosophy

  1. We create thoughtful technology experiences through the application of human-centered design and design thinking.
  2. We are interdisciplinary and collaborative, in teaching and learning.
  3. We learn, make, critique, reflect and refine iteratively.
  4. We engage industry practitioners who bring a real-world perspective to the challenges we face.
  5. Our graduates are ready to face professional practice through well-developed breadth and depth skills.

MHCI+D Core Principles

Michael Smith, Program Director, discusses the five key principles that are the foundation of the MHCI+D program.


Core Curriculum

Immersion Studio (pre-Autumn, 2 credits)

The immersion studio is five-day intensive workshop that will orient new MHCI+D students to core ideas and terminology in HCI and design, provide some key skills that will be instrumental in success in a studio learning environment, and provide students with a intriguing portfolio story worth talking about with industry professionals.

Usability / User Research (Autumn, 3 credits)

The Usability/User Research lecture course provides the theoretical and intellectual foundations of using various qualitative and quantitative research techniques to inform the formulation and execution of design projects.

Ideation Studio (Autumn, 5 credits)

Ideation Studio is a project-based studio, focusing on different techniques for exploring possible responses to a design challenge. For this course, the studio is focused on identifying human behaviors and using technology interventions to the change those behaviors. In addition to ideation and problem-solving methods, this studio will also provide light-weight research and prototyping techniques for ensuring the proposed interventions resonate with users.

User Interface Software + Technology (Winter, 3 credits)

The UIST lecture provides students with historical and theoretical backdrop of the implementation of user interface software and hardware. This includes a thorough understanding of user interface software tools, such as windowing systems, toolkits, and user interface development environments, as well as novel hardware for input, output, and environmental sensing.

Prototyping Studio (Winter, 5 credits)

Prototyping studio is a project-based active learning class focused on embodied interactions. It allows students to explore physical computing, hardware and software integration, and alternative input and output modalities. Students will create prototypes of different forms with different degrees of fidelity and use each to explore potential design decisions and product directions. Students will build upon prototyping methods learned in Ideation Studio and explore new ways of identifying opportunities for product ideas. The output of the class should be a single product concept and an appropriate prototype of that concept.

Capstone Planning Seminar (Winter, 1 credit)

The Capstone Planning seminar is a 1-credit course that helps develop a point-of-view on a single possible “future of” topic area that students will explore in-depth in subsequent quarters. You’ll learn what makes a good team, how to identify what makes a good project, learn to work with capstone advisors, and learn to create a basic project pitch as a mode of securing resources.

Design of Interactive Systems (Spring, 3 credits)

The Design of Interactive Systems course covers a broad range of topics, exploring the intellectual foundations of design thinking, explores different perspectives in the design of interactive systems, provides an overview of the foundations of different design traditions, and helps students develop a framework for making design decision that reflect their own values.

Research Studio (Spring, 5 credits)

The Research Studio provides an opportunity for students to apply formative and evaluative research methods in the context of their Capstone project as well as other relevant technology design problems. Team and individual projects will include practice across all phases of research design, data collection, analysis and design recommendations.

Capstone Studio (Summer, 8 credits)

This final 9-week intensive summer course will give graduates a deeper, focused time to continue on the iterative design, prototyping, and evaluation process. They will focus on a team project that they have developed over the course of the previous two quarters, and they will create a portfolio to record their process and product. Projects will be focused on solving current relevant problems in professional practice and may address domains such as health, the environment, education, assistive technology, retail, or travel. Student teams will work closely with both faculty and industry advisors in the development of a comprehensive project solution and presentation.

Interdisciplinary HCI+D Seminar (DUB Seminar) (All four quarters, 1 credit each quarter)

Session topics of the DUB seminar will range from project presentations to technology previews to guest talks by outside speakers. The seminar will introduce students to a broad range of interdisciplinary perspectives as well as to leading designers and professionals from related disciplines in local/regional companies and organizations


Capstone Projects

Capstone projects are focused on solving current problems in professional practice and may address domains such as health, the environment, education, assistive technology, retail, or travel. Student teams work with mentorship from industry sponsors to apply iterative research, design, prototyping, and evaluation methods to produce a final comprehensive solution or product design and portfolio presentation.

Capstone projects are completed through a sequence of three courses within the core curriculum:

Capstone Planning Seminar (Winter, 1 credit)

The Capstone Planning seminar is a 1-credit course that helps develop a point-of-view on a single possible “future of” topic area that students will explore in-depth in subsequent quarters. You’ll learn what makes a good team, how to identify what makes a good project, learn to work with capstone advisors, and learn to create a basic project pitch as a mode of securing resources.

Research Studio (Spring, 5 credits)

The Research Studio provides an opportunity for students to apply formative and evaluative research methods in the context of their Capstone project as well as other relevant technology design problems. Team and individual projects will include practice across all phases of research design, data collection, analysis and design recommendations.

Capstone Studio (Summer, 8 credits)

This final 9-week intensive summer course will give graduates a deeper, focused time to continue on the iterative design, prototyping, and evaluation process. They will focus on a team project that they have developed over the course of the previous two quarters, and they will create a portfolio to record their process and product. Projects will be focused on solving current relevant problems in professional practice and may address domains such as health, the environment, education, assistive technology, retail, or travel. Student teams will work closely with both faculty and industry advisors in the development of a comprehensive project solution and presentation.


Electives

Electives allow MHCI+D students to explore additional topics in depth to reinforce their core lecture and studio experience. Electives can be selected from graduate-level (400 and above) classes across campus, but mainly come from our four sponsoring departments. The average student will take 2-3 electives over the course of the year-long program.

Examples of the most popular electives include:

Advanced Introduction to HCI (CSE 441) (Spring)

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) theory and techniques. Advanced methods for designing, prototyping, and evaluating user interfaces to computing applications. Novel interface technology, advanced interface design methods, and prototyping tools.

Data Visualization (CSE 442, CSE 512) (Autumn, Winter)

In this course we will study techniques and algorithms for creating effective visualizations based on principles from graphic design, perceptual psychology, and cognitive science. 442 will primarily be filled with CSE undergrads with more focused project themes and attention to technical details than 512. 512 is for grad students from across campus. It has open-ended project themes, and heavier research focus and reading load.

Foundations of Interaction Design (DES 383/582B) (Autumn)

This class will introduce students to the challenges of designing interactive systems. By designing interfaces, designers create an environment for interactions between people and artifacts and turn operations into experiences. The class focuses on the problem of representing, organizing, and addressing functions, information and affordances for interactions, resulting in experiences of use.

Design Field Study (DES 481) (Autumn)

Students develop an understanding of significant theoretical models related to design through a series of readings, lectures, discussions, and assignments.

Advanced Projects in IxD: Microsoft Expo (DES 483) (Winter)

Investigates the form and role of visual narratives from design development in the interaction design process. Introduces planning and production of storyboards, photography, video, editing for storytelling, character development and design concept visualization as they apply to design presentation, communication, and evaluation of interactive design sequences. A quarter-long project with Microsoft for their Design Expo.

Graduate Design Studio (DES 582A) (Autumn)

Explores a range of ideas and influences in the context of applied design.

Visual Communication (HCDE 508) (Winter, Spring, Summer)

Reviews principles of visual communication and design used in HCDE so that students gain a systematic and critical understanding so they can create visual communication components of print and interactive media. Students develop this understanding through hands-on exercises, design critiques, discussions, lectures, and readings in a studio environment.

Information Visualization (HCDE 511) (Autumn)

The design and presentation of digital information. Use of graphics, animation, sound, visualization software, and hypermedia in presenting information the user. Vision and perception. Methods of presenting complex information to enhance comprehension and analysis. Incorporation of visualization techniques into human-computer interfaces.

Experimental Research Methods (HCDE 516) (Autumn)

Introduction to experimental research methods in human centered design and engineering. Examines the relationship between theory and research, hypothesis testing, experimental designs, modes of observation, sampling, validity, and data analysis and interpretation. Prerequisite: introductory statistics course.

Usability Studies (HCDE 517) (Winter)

Discusses the human-computer interface (HCI) as the communicative aspect of a computer system. Analyzes usability issues in HCI design, explores design-phase methods of predictability, and introduces evaluative methods of usability testing.

Qualitative Research Methods (HCDE 519) (Winter, Spring)

Provides hands-on experience with qualitative research methods, such as interviewing and participant observation, as used in human-centered design and engineering. Students learn to develop appropriate research questions, collect observational data, develop interview protocols, conduct interviews, analyze data, and communicate findings.

Value Sensitive Design (INFO 444) (Spring)

Value sensitive design seeks to provide theory and method to account for human values in a principled and systematic manner throughout the design process. Central to a value sensitive design approach are analyses of both direct and indirect stakeholders; distinctions among designer values, values explicitly supported by the technology, and stakeholder values; individual, group, and societal levels of analysis; the integrative and iterative conceptual, technical, and empirical investigations; and a commitment to progress (not perfection).

Input and Interaction (INFO 463) (Spring)

Introduces input and interaction techniques for desktop, mobile, and other computer environments. Combines motor and perceptual psychology, interaction design, and input devices and software in the student of human-computer systems. Emphasizes using human performance models in inform the design of new interaction techniques.

Interactive Information Visualization (INFO 474) (Winter)

Techniques and theory for visualizing, analyzing, and supporting interaction with structures data like numbers, text, and relations. Provides practical experience designing and building interactive visualizations for the web. Exposes students to cognitive science, statistics, and perceptual psychology. Uses empirical approach to design and evaluate visualizations.

Designing Information Experiences (INFX 565) (Spring)

Explores experience design including user experience, customer experience, and service design. Covers the philosophical foundations of experience, how to design and evaluate experiences, and the business aspects of customer experience. The focus is on experiences of and with information.