Quite a few exciting things happened over the course of the last months. I graduated from university, did an internship in Silicon Valley and started my Master’s degree at the University of Birmingham in Britain.
Graduating university with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Game Development, my coursework and work experiences increased my interest in the relationship between humans and computers, clients and end-users. I realized by way of my studies of Game Development, that games are different to traditional software systems in the sense that most software is designed with the purpose of either rendering the user obsolete, or of supporting a user in performing a task. Games on the other hand are solely developed for entertainment or educational purposes. For me, this is a very intriguing aspect, as user experience and satisfaction should therefore play an even more significant role.
As a result, I chose to base my bachelor thesis on usability testing and questioned the existence of differences in planning, designing and conducting usability tests for video games in comparison to traditional software and what those differences might look like. Carrying out a set of in-house usability studies gave me the opportunity to learn about iterative evaluation methods and practically evaluating a product from the perspective of the user. Based on this experience and the knowledge I gained during my thesis, I decided I wanted to learn more about software user relationship by enrolling in a postgraduate degree in Human-Computer Interaction.
The master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) will help me to understand the systems users’ abilities and constraints and teach me the interdisciplinary techniques necessary to design, build, and evaluate usable and receptive systems in the context of real- world problems.
The reason I chose to study HCI at the University of Birmingham is besides the department’s high reputation (ranked 5th in the UK and 1st for Human-Computer Interaction in the UK) the deep integration of the HCI centre into the master’s degree, where I will be part of a small group of students working closely with researchers. Optional courses like “Nature Inspired Computing” will give me the chance to look beyond human interaction as it combines the observation on how the nature behaves with purpose to solve complex problems.
I had three spare months in-between graduation and the beginning of my Master’s degree (starting next week), in which I did an internship at Fair Observer, a multinational magazine which aims to overcome the current broken news media model. Living in Silicon Valley/San Francisco, I was part of a young and dynamic start up in which I gained experiences I wouldn’t be able to make in a different place. I am very grateful that the founders, Atul and Fabian, took me on board. My tasks at Fair Observer lied within the field of User Experience, User Interface Design and Web Development and included tasks such as user research, wireframing, producing mockups and the modification and maintenance of the website.
I realize that I have merely scratched the surface of Human-Computer Interaction, so I am looking forward to continue my education in a postgraduate degree and start a PhD or Doctorate next year so I can ultimately fulfill my goal of assuming an instrumental role in shaping the future of interactive systems.