Bryan Kern, a graduate student who has recently earned a master's degree in human-computer interaction (HCI) this May, presented at Quest Wednesday, April 17 about his research opportunities in the HCI program.
Quest is a campus-wide conference at SUNY Oswego that gives faculty, staff and students the opportunity to share their scholarly and creative endeavors.
Kern’s Quest presentation, “Research Opportunities in HCI at Oswego: A Look at the Last Two Years,” was an opportunity for Kern to share his experience working in the HCI program and the instrumental opportunities that are available for students.
Kern’s interest in the HCI program began after taking classes with Damian Schofield, Director of Human-Computer Interaction at SUNY Oswego, who has done significant research in 3D graphics and trauma studies.
“He (Schofield) wants people to excel in what they like to do,” Kern said.
The HCI program at SUNY Oswego focuses on interacting with users and involves a significant amount of methodology. Students work on two major projects instead of a master’s thesis.
The ideology behind working on two projects instead of a thesis is that the first one is about getting a feel for the research related to user experience.
“It’s where the kinks are figured out,” Kern said.
The second project is more focused on getting published in a journal or participating in a conference to display the research that has been done.
Kern’s first project focused on collecting data and creating a webpage about post-traumatic stress disorder. The project was a learning experience, instead of finding significant results; he learned more about how HCI actually worked.
“I came in wanting to do one giant project across the two years, but that didn’t work out because of the opportunity I had last summer,” Kern said.
Research in Brazil
During the summer of 2012, Kern and four other SUNY Oswego students received a STEM Grant in order to work on two projects in Brazil at the Federal University of Paraiba (UFPB).
According to Kern, the university system at UFPB was set up differently and the HCI program is narrowly focused, but the external impact from himself and the 4 other students was beneficial, bringing in an international perspective.
During the research in Brazil, Kern worked with a video server for medical professionals, which would allow surgeons to login to a surgery room and watch the surgery. Kern helped with the website that was being developed for this program.
The second project, which Kern and the other students tested, was called Microsoft Kinect. This was an interface created for surgeons to allow them to look at X-rays and MRI’s directly on a screen in the surgery room.
The research for both projects was published and presented at the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kern was the lead author, with Tatiana Tavares, a visiting professor at SUNY Oswego from the UFPB, and Damian Schofield, Director of Human-Computer Interaction at SUNY Oswego, as the second and third authors.
After Kern’s experience in Brazil, he came back to Oswego with a newfound knowledge.
“I feel confidant graduating today, after Brazil.” Kern said.
In the fall semester of 2012, Kern was given the opportunity to work with Welch Allyn, a medical diagnostic equipment manufacturing company based in Skaneateles, N.Y.
Kern was able to continue work on a previous student’s research and turned it into a project, where he worked on compiling methods for the company to increase efficiency and organization in the industry. Welch Allyn used these compiled methods during the 15 weeks Kern worked with the company.
Kern’s Quest presentation was about the volume of work he was able to get done in two years and the opportunities he had to work with multiple professors on different topics.
“It’s the benefit of a smaller program,” Kern said.
According to Kern, this is an up and coming field and if students are willing to move, they won’t have problems finding jobs; however, there are jobs locally and the program is working on building relationships with local companies to help students with job placements.
“The graduate studies office and HCI both want to try keeping students local,” Kern said.
Kern has been applying to jobs for user interface, but his career goal is going on to obtain his Ph. D. and eventually teach.