Additional Updates

Alright, part 2 then. Moving away from our research project work to cover other weekly happenings: we had some amazing lunch and lectures this week. Debra Kumar joined us on Tuesday to talk about her journey as a UX Researcher. I didn’t even know UX research was a thing; I had heard of UX design, though. It was cool to have a different perspective from someone who had more industry experience than academia. Kumar had worked at Google for several years and is teaching at ISU as a professor for the time being. I really want to look into UX research and learn more now!

On Thursday, we had an equally interesting lecturer: Sarah Bentil. While her field wasn’t as fascinating to me (more medically related), she was a wonderful person to talk with. I liked hearing about her academic and professional journey. She never really decided what she wanted to do until after her PhD. She spent most of her time exploring options, whether that be industry or more schooling. It’s always nice to know that you don’t need to have your plans nailed down as soon as possible. Bentil mentioned that even though she had a wandering path, she would do it again the same for the experience.

Bentil also had us do a fun activity during lunch. We worked in teams to complete a brain-related word search as fast as possible while listening to her giving facts about the different parts of the brain. My group finished first, and we won a neat little brain eraser.

We had another HCI session this week which covered topics on GenderMag and how to give a talk. GenderMag provides engineers with common “personas” that they can use to test the usability of their designs. For example, an engineer might think their design is very intuitive, but someone with a different perspective (i.e. one of the personas) might not. This ensures the engineers are providing a product that is beneficial and easy to use for everyone.

In the same session, we also discussed tips for giving a talk. We then paired up in groups to give short practice talks about a randomly selected topic and then receive feedback from our audience. I was with Rebecca, and we ended up with the topic “what makes a good weekend.” It felt very difficult to plan an outline in a just a few minutes, but we settled with what elements make up a good weekend: level of relaxation, choice of activity, and time spent with others.

It was a rather full week, but we had several very compelling activities that I enjoyed.

Star Wars update: the full trailer for Ahsoka came out this week. Give it a watch!

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