The MHCI Project course is an eight-month long capstone project for the Master’s of HCI program and integrates everything the students have learned in their coursework into one "end-to-end" experience. Students work in interdisciplinary teams with an industry sponsor to produce a working prototype that serves as a proof of concept of a novel service or product idea. The students come from a variety of backgrounds including Computer Science, Psychology, Design, and other related programs.
The industrial client defines the project area and guides the direction of the project. In the first few months of the project (January to April), students conduct user research and brainstorm product ideas. The user research phase begins with students conducting contextual inquiries and background research to understand the nature and needs of the customer/user and tasks relevant to the problems encountered. Based on this understanding, students go through an innovation phase producing product ideas situated to meet the identified needs. With strong sponsor input, they narrow down their ideas and select one or more areas to pursue further. Then, over the fall semester, students engage in a prototyping and user-testing phase where they produce prototypes with increasing fidelity and iteratively test them with users to improve the design. They do weekly iteration cycles, so by the end of the semester, product prototypes are well refined and adapted to user needs. The end goal is a working prototype that serves as a proof of concept of the product idea.
Our project sponsors are organizations and individuals who make possible far-reaching, high-quality research at the HCII. Our work with sponsors typically engages customers and users in the research process. HCII and our sponsors believe that the perspective of customers and users is an essential part of developing the theory and practice of human-computer interaction. Our sponsors are typically interested in research that covers both long and short-term impact. Projects range from those sponsored by an individual company and performed by a small group of students to multi-department institutes sponsored by large firms or even multi-company consortia.
Please see the brochure (PDF) describing the sponsorship process. To find out more about sponsoring a project team, read more about our project sponsors or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Past sponsors at HCII/CMU include:
Bell Atlantic, DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Disney, General Motors, IBM, Intel, Interactive Systems, Inc., McDonnell Foundation, Microsoft, National Science Foundation, Omron, Oracle Corporation, ONR - Office of Naval Research, NASA - National Aeronautics & Space Administration, Panasonic, Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, National Science Foundation, Navy and DARPA, SPAWAR - Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Tides Center, University of Pittsburgh, University of Virginia, Verizon/BBNT and Xerox PARC
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