New human-computer interaction program to connect

imageSUNY Oswego’s new graduate program in human-computer interaction will meet an important market need through an innovative interdisciplinary approach.

The graduate program would be the first of its kind in New York state, said Klatsky, who is an associate professor of psychology at SUNY Oswego. Such universities as Carnegie-Mellon and Maryland are among the few institutions with comparable programs, he added.

HCI has become an in-demand discipline that focuses on designing, evaluating and implementing computer systems with human factors in mind. Oswego’s interdisciplinary program incorporates computer science components that provide students with the ability to program user interfaces, psychology classes to learn how humans interact with technology, and graphic design courses that will help students understand visual and creative considerations.

“What makes our program unique is that our students will learn the usability and aesthetics components of user interface design and how to program these designs,” Klatsky noted. The program will give students the understanding and broad base required to make them competitive for this hot job field, he added.

Klatsky’s interest stems from working for General Electric years ago and discovering a pressing need for workers with HCI experience. “I was looking for people with a background that spanned psychology and computer science,” Klatsky recalled. “I had a difficult time finding people with the qualifications I was looking for.”

Graduates are expected to be qualified for many jobs involving designing human-computer interactive technology at companies that develop hardware or software and those with defense-industry projects.

Brent Farrell, a graduate student from Oswego, is applying to become one of the first enrolled in the new program. He has already taken some of the core courses and finds the range of experiences available, and the rarity of the program, appealing.

“I like being able to get experience in more areas than just programming,” Farrell said. “I get to program, which I enjoy doing and is something I’m good at, but can also broaden my experience with psychology and graphic design.”

Farrell has picked up additional experience working on Oswego’s soon-to-launch Web site redesign. Between that experience and the HCI program, he can see his future plans involved in more than just programming and coding. “I might be able to design interfaces and products, and become more involved in many facets of creation,” he said.

More information is available online at

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(Posted: Jul 14, 2004)

Tags: innotech, human-computer interaction, computer science