The Human-Computer Interaction Institute is an extant laboratory where the relationship between human activity, computer technology, and society are investigated. It was founded in 1993, and is the place where individuals work to understand and then create technology that works with and improves human goals, capabilities, and social environments through the very important interdisciplinary research and education in computer science, design, behavior sciences and social sciences. The institution also works closely with colleagues from various universities not only in Pittsburgh but around the world as well. They also collaborate with researchers in companies that are anything from a local startup to something like a multinational corporation. The research and educational programs offered will span a full spectrum of knowledge creation. The institution researches how people work, how they play, and how they communicate in organizations, groups, and social structures. Then, they will design, create, and evaluate technologies as well as tools that will support human and social activities. From start to finish the university stands firm in its dedication to collaboration.
The mission of the university is to apply creativity and rigor pervasively and consistently. It works to infuse HCI methods in an appropriate way in CMU and beyond. Students will be pushed the boundaries of the problems that HCI addresses. They will also work to expand the tools and methods that are used to address said problems while delivering artifacts, systems, and services that improve the lives of individuals. And most importantly, the institution works to remember that people are at the center of their work.
The MHCI program is put together as a 3 semester program that is to be completed in just one calendar year, from August to August. It is a professional degree that will prepare students for a career that is related to HCI, user experience, and more. The program is rooted in interdisciplinary studies, and each year the cohorts are made up of students with richly diverse backgrounds with various degrees of experience and backgrounds—including social sciences, design, business and computer science, and more. The MHCI program is led by an array of faculty that are working to define the world of HCI and bring together their own experiences in multiple disciplines to apply to the program.
The Undergraduate major in HCI is made up of 12 prerequisite and required courses. Students have to take 4 electives that must be chosen and submitted before enrolling officially in the program. This is to ensure that students are not taking electives that cannot be applied to their degree. They can be from the HCI institute or other departments with courses relevant to HCI. The students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA in HCI courses in order to graduate with the HCI major. They must also pass their core classes with a B grade or better. Students must have taken the statistics prerequisite course, as this is a vital part of being able to conduct empirical research in HCI. Not all required courses are available all semesters, so it is vital for students to ensure that their projected path fits with the school course catalog. http://www.hcii.cmu.edu/
The Master of Design in Design for Interactions is a 2 year professional degree for those students that have an undergraduate degree in design, or have prior design experience. Carnegie Mellon University was one of the first programs in the world to actually offer a master's degree for interaction design. 20 years ago, the program was mainly focused on the screen interfaces for websites and computer applications. Since then, those boundaries that were once clear between hardware and software, or device and user, have been considerably blurred. This trend not only continues on, but has sped up. The 2 prior degrees offered for interaction design and communication planning and information design have been brought together to form a single degree—this one. Nevertheless, the emphasis on information design and communication remains a very important part of this degree, through the required coursework as well as electives inside and outside of the program.
During the first year of the program, students will take core seminars and studio courses that will provide the practical and intellectual foundation for the program. Then, students will continue to explore social and service innovation design opportunities within public policy and business sectors using research based team projects. During their second year, students will embark on their thesis project developed under the mentorship of a chosen faculty adviser. They will also take a seminar course along with a few electives. Students are strongly encouraged to take summer internships between their first and second years to gain real world experience.