Springing Forward from an Intensive Winter Quarter

Much like a harsh snowstorm blanketing the Cascades, there are no gradual flurries to steadily ease one into this fierce yet extraordinary period of MHCI+D. With a course calendar loaded with Prototyping Studio, User Interface Software & Technology (UIST), the beginnings of the much-anticipated capstone projects, and a bounty of electives, students tightened their boots, zipped up their jackets, and embraced the challenge.

During the first week of 2024, Jon Froelich, professor of Prototyping Studio, wasted no time laying out the core objective: Using AI, create a socially impactful, multiplayer, “walk-up-and-play” video game. No matter what the students’ experiences within this realm were, Cohort 11 was coding with Javascript libraries and building joysticks and controllers in no time. 

Another core class students took this quarter was User Interface Software & Technology (UIST) with Professor Amy Ko. Taking a critical lens to the creation and use of technology in society, the cohort analyzed and reimagined various forms of interfaces and user experiences.

“Time Travel through Augmented and Virtual Reality” was the theme to kick off Professor Axel Roessler’s Advanced Interaction Design elective. Throughout the quarter, students designed projects such as visualizing their calendars in a 3D space, revisiting and editing memories in mixed reality by viewing time non-linearly, and having virtual assistants to help them throughout the day.

Industry instructor Chris Seifert’s Advanced Interfaces class emphasized the next generation of sound in user experience. Throughout the course, students delved into innovative interface design beyond the screen. The curriculum was centered on adaptive, intelligent, and multimodal design strategies, engaging students in creating interactive experiences that utilize voice, sound, visuals, motion, and gestures as both inputs and outputs.

The entrepreneurship elective can be a gutsy choice given the MBA saturated curriculum. Nonetheless, some brave cohort members leaned in to unlock incredible opportunities: building and presenting startup ideas to a room full of venture capitalists who, in turn, provided a wealth of knowledge and feedback, especially with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy sitting in on class one evening to get a closer look at this next generation of disruptors.

DUB Seminar speakers’ thought-provoking presentations continued to resonate throughout the quarter. From Joyojeet Pal’s talk on social media misinformation and manipulation in India to our very own Lindah Kotut’s critical messaging about reading the “terms & conditions” on app downloads, DUB delivered. Students also kicked off their “Professional Purpose Pathway” strategy documents, a unique tool guiding students’ career and professional development across the next 3-5 years.

The quarter wasn’t simply hard work with no play. The social committee organized a “welcome back hang”, an incredible Valentine’s Day party, as well as smaller social hours. Additionally, in a true act of altruism, Hridae Walia and Peter Lin led a skill share workshop on prototyping and fabrication to get their fellow students up to speed for the course. 

The quarter culminated with an extraordinary and uplifting Prototyping Studio Showcase. Over 55 guests circulated through interactive games fit for the Pacific Science Center. From educating users on habitat and biodiversity protection, healthy food option scarcity, mental health, accessibility (for humans and animals!), and inequality. 

As the cohort thaws out from winter quarter, it looks forward to brighter days ahead full of capstone project research and execution, user research studio, portfolio workshops, and new electives. Onward!