Iowa State University's Virtual Reality Application Center is a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research center that is focused on bringing together humans and technology, and has the general goal of enhancing productivity and creativity of people. This outstanding research infrastructure is able to support the research done by faculty and staff represented in all seven of Iowa State University's colleges, as well as the collaborations with a handful of federal agencies and other industry partners. The Virtual Reality Application Center research community brings together a wide variety of disciplinary experts with specific strengths in top-of-the-line interaction technologies including augmented, virtual, and mixed reality as well as developmental robotics, mobile computing, and haptics interaction. This community is also successful at human centered design and the user experience evaluation, and even assessing the effectiveness of brand-new interaction modalities through formal user studies. To go along with its research mission, the VRAC has established, and now leads, Iowa State University's interdepartmental graduate major in HCI, human computer interaction. There are over 200 students currently enrolled, making it the largest interdepartmental graduate major at ISU. The VRAC staff is friendly, efficient, and service oriented to make this collaborative interdisciplinary culture a successful feat. Administrative support helps with research proposal preparation and submission, purchasing, appointments, and grant admission. The technical staff provides their assistance for hardware maintenance, coordination, system integration, and technical assistance to this research community. The flagship facility, called C6, is the world's best high resolution immersive display environment along with a 240 seat 3D-capable auditorium.
The Master of Science in Human Computer Interaction degree online is a non-thesis MS that was launched in fall of 2008. This degree came to fruition thanks to the growing demand from businesses and industries for a graduate program that provides education in the field of HCI. Students in this degree program will complete a total of 30 course credits, nine of these credits will come from three core courses, and three of these credits will come from a capstone course. Students will not be required to venture to campus, but are encouraged to visit campus to present their capstone course project and to participate in commencement. Students must obtain a grade of B or better in all of the core HCI courses. To complete the courses online, students can expect to learn through the use of streamed media such as recorded lectures, email, chat rooms, and phone conversations.
This program is most appropriate for those individuals that have a bachelor's degree in a business, scientific, artistic, or engineering discipline that are pursuing a professional career and already have a strong foundation for information technology skills. To be admitted, students must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and must have a GPA that would place them in the upper half of their graduating class. Students will also need to provide their transcripts and test score to show that they will be successful at the graduate level. Students will also be expected to be able to be able to competently write software.