RIT Launches Studies in Human-Computer Interaction

New discipline emerges with boom in computer use




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Human-computer interaction, the study of the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems, emphasizing effects on the user—the human—has emerged as a significant new discipline in the past decade. As such, Rochester Institute of Technology’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the largest comprehensive computing college in the nation, offers a new master’s concentration in human-computer interaction.

“Human-computer interaction puts the user first and considers the user integral in the development of effective communication between users and computers,” says Evelyn Rozanski, RIT professor of information technology and developer of the concentration.

Rozanski says the field includes studies in:

  • Computer science and engineering—software and process models
  • Cognitive psychology—the user’s perceptual, cognitive and problem-solving skills
  • Ergonomics—the user’s physical capabilities
  • Graphic design—the aesthetics of producing an effective interface presentation

Human-computer interaction also incorporates studies in artificial intelligence, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, business and technical writing, Rozanski says.

“The study of human-computer interaction is an important and natural complement to RIT’s computing programs,” she continues. “We want students to understand the importance and process of developing software that not only runs correctly but is also usable and effective.”

Five courses in the concentration focus on human-computer interaction foundations; aspects of effective interface design; usability guidelines for user satisfaction, ease of learning and ease of use; design, implementation and evaluation of usable systems; advanced contemporary topics; and a variety of application areas such as groupware and gaming. A usability-testing lab will open in 2003 in the computing college’s new building, currently under construction.

Note: For more information on the concentration, visit www.it.rit.edu/~epr/hci.

Note: RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, the largest comprehensive computing college in the nation, was created with a $14 million gift from B. Thomas Golisano, chairman and chief executive officer of Paychex Inc.

The college offers undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science and information technology and an undergraduate program in software engineering. The college is home to the university’s Laboratory for Applied Computing, which partners with industry in the development of innovative applications of emerging information technologies.

RIT was the first university to offer undergraduate degrees in information technology and software engineering and, in 1972, one of the first universities to offer an undergraduate degree in computer science.

Founded in 1829, RIT is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging, technology, fine and applied arts, and education for the deaf. RIT enrolls 15,000 students in more than 240 undergraduate and graduate programs.