HCI Department Shows Alumni Success

SUNY Oswego's Human Computer Interaction (HCI) department has shown great success with their recent alumni. Bryan Kern ('11, MA '13) and Patricia Tanner (MA '14) have both found success in their careers following graduation.

Bryan Kern

After completing his undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science, Kern wanted to take his education to the next level. "There was a chance to take a grad level course in an HCI class as an undergrad. I took an HCI Methods with Damian [Schofield] and was hooked and decided to pursue HCI at Oswego," said Kern.

During his time as a graduate, Kern was able to work in a virtual reality laboratory in Brazil over the summer of 2012. HCI director Damien Schofield prides the program on the students' abilities to obtain internships and get experience working in the field upon graduation. " What I'm pleased about is that most of them actually go into Human Computer Interaction user experience, user interface design careers" said Schofield. " It's very broad ranging. There's a real call for people in this area. My students don't all get jobs immediately, but they all get jobs. Probably a quarter of them head over to Silicon Valley."

Kern is a prime example of this, as he packed up his car and drove across the US to California with no plans of work. He eventually found himself working as a UX Researcher for UserTesting, and was asked to step into the role of Research Manager and works exclusively as a Customer Enablement Specialist. "All of those words mean, that what I did with my time at SUNY Oswego prepped me to be doing something that’s relevant to my education – which is awesome," said Kern. "My current position allows me to help train customers of UserTesting, so they get the most out of it. I’m able to apply what I learned in both undergrad and grad school to my daily work, which seems to be somewhat uncommon in today’s world."

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Patricia Tanner

Tanner came to Oswego's graduate program with a background in history and made the jump to HCI. "One of the greatest things about the HCI is that wee take students from any discipline" said Schofield. "Students mainly come from keystones of the HCI discipline (computer science engineering, graphic design, psychology, and cognitive science) but then the others come from anywhere. We've got creative writing, history, marketing, accounting, marine biology; any discipline can come into HCI."

"I had been accepted into a similar program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute," said Tanner. "However, I chose SUNY Oswego because it was more affordable and the graduate office offered close to 100 assistantships for master’s students. I was not sacrificing the quality of education by choosing SUNY Oswego. I had done research into the HCI professors and discovered that I would have the chance to learn, first hand, from some very highly respected professionals in academia."

By applying her education on Education Technology, Tanner was able to test whether augmented reality technology improved task efficiency, engagement, student satisfaction, and subject comprehension when compared to traditional teaching techniques. Like Kern, Tanner also studied in Brazil to study the use of technology games in pediatric physical and occupational therapies. As result of her education and opportunities from SUNY Oswego, Tanner has been published in the Journal of Information Technology Education.

She now works as a User Experience Researcher for the Xerox Corporation where she uses research methods to discover usability issues in our product designs during development. " I perform experimental studies that focus on our end-users interacting with various design prototypes. Once a test is complete, I make design suggestions based on a statistical analysis of the interaction." Tanner credits her skills to the HCI program at SUNY Oswego. " Each project that I completed uses combined knowledge of usability, experimental design, technology design, research methods, statistical analysis, and a focus on end users.