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NSF: New Strengthening American Infrastructure initiative empowers a Human-Centered approach

A new Dear Colleague letter from NSF for interdisciplinary approaches to American infrastruce should beof interest to those in the human-centered design community. Quoting from the letter:

NSF is particularly interested in proposals that integrate a deep understanding of human cognition, perception, information processing, decision making, social and cultural behavior, legal frameworks, governmental structures, and related areas into the design, development, and sustainability of infrastructure. Infrastructure may be of any kind, including cyber, economic, educational, physical, and social.

Fro more informaton see https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2021/nsf21019/nsf21019.jsp

HCD Courses Spring 2021

With the opening of Spring 2021 course requests, here’s a list of HCD-relevant courses that people pursuing an iPhD or Certificate may want to pursue:

GRAD 5134: Human Centered Design (REQUIRED!)

CS/ISE 5714: Usability Engineering
ART 5524: 2D Animation Studio
STS 6614: Adv Top Tech Studies
CS 5734: Soc Comp & Comp Support Coop
CS 6724: Advanced Topics In HCI: Collab, Creativity & Comp
ECE 5564: Wearable + Ubiquitous Computing
EDIT 5614: Digitally Mediated Learning
EDIT 5624: Interactive Learning Media, Arts, and Design
ISE 6614: Human Computer Systems 

Check with the profs for these offerings to see if it is a good match for you.

Director Harrison on zoom fatigue in Wall Street Journal

In May, HCD Director Steve Harrison was extensively quoted in an article in the Wall Street Journal on “zoom fatigue”.

Sheltering-in-place and everyone’s discovery of teleconferencing systems such as FaceTime, Skype, and especially Zoom has created a situation where people are now holding meetings with one-another in place of more natural forms of social connection that families, friends, acquaintances and just people encountering each other in the course of the day have evolved over generations. The Wall Street Journal article is about the mismatch between the design of Zoom and how we are using it.  

This research has been a long-term project of Steve Harrison bringing together a number of disciplines as well as a particular approach to human centered design.

He started this work in 1988 at Xerox PARC, at that time the most famous place in the world for human-computer interaction, where the graphical user interface was invented.  His work (then and now) is concerned both with the technical design of such systems and, more importantly, how these technologies invite interpersonal connection.  Meaningful interpersonal connection is made up of many different situations, such as: seeing a person’s expression during a conversation (as in Zoom), overhearing activity of colleagues in a hallway, watching grandchildren have lunch, being able to gesture when sketching over a cocktail napkin, catching a whiff of a lover’s perfume, knowing what the current hot topic is amongst fellow students, and knowing that your kids’ grandparents are hearing the same music at the same time as your kids.

From the beginning, that research was concerned with meetings, but went beyond meets to a concern with how people stay connected over time.  The original research focused on what we called “media space” — the “space” created by mixing audio, video and social computing.

Since coming to Virginia Tech in 2003, he has edited and published two volumes on the topic: 
1) Harrison, Steve, Media Space: 20+ Years of Mediated Life,  Springer Science and Business.  2009.
2) Neustaedter, C., Harrison, S. and Sellen, A. Connecting Families: The Impact of New Communication Technologies on Domestic Life (Computer Supported Cooperative Work) Springer, 2013

More recently, he and Deborah Tatar have supervised graduate work that examines and enlarges shared simultaneous listening, trying to find appropriate balances between sharing and privacy.  One project (conducted by Dr. Michael Stewart, now an Assistant Professor at JMU) created a mechanism for middle schoolers to listen simultaneously to the same music, but is careful to avoid creating other social distractions that their parents might not want. Another (by Dr. Javier Tibau, an Assistant Professor at ESPOL in Ecuador) used dedicated music boxes to connect families with very young children and their parents in American to grandparents at Central or South America.  Families can create and decorate Card Song that even quite young children can use to play the same music at the same time on speakers in each household.  But this design avoids privacy violations because only the music is shared.  People use it together with Zoom or other connectivity technologies for focused interaction.  A recent Masters student of mine, Melanie Trammell, drilled down on what people want from connectivity, investigating how students infer elements of other student’s identities when communicating at a distance.  Notably, all three are holders of the HCD Certificate. 

New Directors Announced

It is with great pelasure that I announce that as I move toward retirement, I pass the directorship to two extremely capable and dedicated colleagues: Ico Bukvic (Music and Creativity + Innovation) and Scott McCrickard (Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction).

I have been very pleased with the success of the Program these past 6 years: the Program’s commitment to interdisciplinary education and research, the students range of interests and their enthusiasm and ability to work across discipline bondaries, and the inclusion of design thinking, particularly human-centered design thinking in research.

The Executive Committe of the Human Centered Design program choose to have co-directors since the program is growing and changing and to represent that ever-widening set of interests. The HCD IGEP is unusual in that it is comprised of not the intersection of disciplnes, but the union of aspects of diverse disciplines. Its transdiscipinarity is therefore highly situated and our two co-directors will continue find and support new ways in which human centred design can contribute to knowlwedge creation in general and responsible design practice in particular.

Dr. Bukvic is the founder and director of the Digital Interactive Sound and Intermedia Studio (DISIS), and the world’s first Linux Laptop Orchestra (L2Ork) at Virginia Tech. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), a member of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCI), and, by courtesy, a faculty member in the department of Computer Science. Since 2005, he serves as the director of the international Linuxaudio.org consortium. He received his Doctorate in music composition in 2005 with cognates in computer music programming and music theory at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.  Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he taught at Oberlin Conservatory and University of Cincinnati.

Dr. McCrickard is a human-computer interaction researcher with a long history of research into design rationale and methods that build upon it. Most recently he developed the Tech on the Trail research program and is probably the foremost expert on the research of mobile techonlogies use in outdoor activities. These are tied together with a foundational interest in how interfaces notify people efectiley and appropriately. Many of you know his as one of the regular faculty found at the Hack ‘n Snack located in the Moss Art Center — back when we were doing things like physically-copresent socializing.

I believe that the program is in good hands. We look forward to seeing how they will connect HCD with new programs, disciplines, and degree offerings in both Blacksburg and at the new Innovation Campus.

Our First iPhD!

Congratulations to Najla Mouchrek, our (and VT’s) first indepenedent/interdisciplinary PhD!

Najla’s dissertation, Empowerment in the transition to adulthood: supporting career exploration in college using participatory design, was completed and successfully defended on May 8.

Her research was an interdisciplinary study of empowerment in emerging adulthood and application of design-based processes to support college student developmental outcomes, including:

  • Construction of a theoretical model of developmental empowerment in the transition to adulthood.
  • Online survey with VT students about empowering experiences in college
  • Development and implementation of a participatory design-based intervention for Virginia Tech first-year students exploring career options

HCD Courses, Fall 2019

Will Makowski, newest official HCD iPhD

Congratulations to Will Maowski for having his iPhD proposal passed and becoming an official iPhD student. His proposal, First Principles Approach to Design: Exploring the relationships between Accident Scenarios, Biomechanics of Injury and the whole Product Development Life Cycle, is to work on the design of helmets. His interdisciplinary committee is Dr. Thomas L. Martin (Co-chair) ECE/CoE & Director of Strategic and Creative Initiatives ICAT, Prof. Andy Schaudt (Co-chair) Management/Business & Project Director Automated Vehicle Systems VTTI, Prof. Brook Kennedy – Industrial Design/CAUS, Dr. Steve Rowson – Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics/CoE, Dr. Christopher Williams – ME/CoE

HCD Spring 2019 Poster Session

All are invited to the Spring HCD Research Poster Session in 251 Moss Art Center on Friday 2019.04.26 from 3:00-4:30 pm.

Come see the wide variety of topics and approaches to human centered design our interdisciplinary students are working on.

HCD @ the regular Hack ‘n Snack (Friday’s 2-5)

I want to invite all HCD (and HCD-inclined) students to use the Hack ‘n Snack space and time as our hangout.  (It also happens to be Steve’s regular office hours….)

So here are the particulars:


  • Where: 253 Moss Art Center
  • When: 2:00pm to 5:00pm.
  • What: a space to get some work done and meet, often informally. The space has a slight studio vibe where overhearing other awareness-based knowing is valued.
  • Who: faculty and enthusiastic students who want to work on socio-technical systems, critical design, VR/AR ideas, human centered design, and other interdisciplinary-based work


  • Around 4:30 or 5:00, we retreat to the Tap House (or equivalent).  The HCI Center buys the snack, and the individuals pay for their own drinks.


HCD Courses, Spring 2019

The following courses are (tentatively) offered Spring 2019. Note that some are listed as time “TBD” and/or taught by “Staff”:

CORE COURSES (both required)
GRAD 5134: Topics in Interdisciplinary Research (when HCD topic is offered) not offered this semester
CS 5724: Models and Theories of Human-Computer Interaction not offered this semester

DESIGN STUDIES ART 5524: Topics in Human Centered Design (studio): Adv Motion graphics Tu Th 3:30PM 5:25PM Zach Duer
ART 1234 (5xxx number TBA): Design for Non-Majors Tu Th 3:30PM 6:15PM Jeff Joiner
ENGE 5024: Design in Engineering Education and Practice not offered this semester
STS 6614: Adv. TS: (Cultures of Design; Origins of Innovation) not offered this semester

UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE CS/ISE 5714: Usability Engineering Tu Th 2:00-3:15 Scott McCrickard
CS 5734: Computer-Supported Collaborative Work not offered this semester
EDIT 5234: Intro to the Learning Sciences not offered this semester
ENGE 5404: Assessment Techniques in Engineering Education M 9:05-11:50 Reid
ISE 5604: Human Information Processing I not offered this semester
ISE 6984: Cognitive Task and Work Analysis not offered this semester
PSYC 5354: Information Processing not offered this semester
STS 6244: TS: History, Culture, and Politics of the Internet not offered this semester

DESIGN REALIZATION ART 5704: TS: Grad Game Design M W 12:30-2:15 Wallace Santos-Lages
ART 5714: TS: Creative Code for Art & Design; TS: Interaction Design Tu Th 5:30-7:15 Zach Duer
CS 5764: Information Visualization not offered this semester
CS 5774: User Interface Software not offered this semester
ECE 5564: Wearable + Ubiquitous Computing TBA Staff
EDIT 5614: Digitally Mediated Learning not offered this semester
EDIT 5624: Interactive Learning Media, Arts, and Design Th 1:00-3:30 Johnson
EDIT 5634: Interactive Learning Media Development not offered this semester
ENGL 5074: Introduction to Digital Humanities not offered this semester
ENGL 6344: Rhetoric in Digital Environments not offered this semester
ISE 6604: Human Factors in Visual Display Systems Tu Th 12:30-1:45 Joe Gabbard
ISE 6614: Human Computer Systems Tu Th 3:30-4:45 Joe Gabbard
ME 5644: Rapid Prototyping Tu Th 9:30-11:45 Zheng