The HCII threw open its doors and welcomed more than 275 of its nearest and dearest back to campus Nov. 14–16 to celebrate the institute's 20th birthday. Students, alumni, current and former faculty, staff, and friends gathered for a weekend of celebration and scholarship to commemorate the institute's founding in 1994.
Since its inception, Carnegie Mellon's HCII has worked to understand and create technology that harmonizes with and improves human capabilities, goals, and social environments through interdisciplinary research and education in design, computer science, and behavioral and social sciences. The weekend's events not only honored that history of excellence, but also looked to the future of both HCI as a field, and the HCII as an institution.
Throughout the event, attendees heard from HCI luminaries like Karen Holtzblatt, Don Norman, Stuart Card, and MHCI alumna Kerry Bodine on topics including user experience, customer experience, building stuff and late binding in design. Alumni discussed their spinoff companies, while others shared advice for success in industry or academia. Former department heads gathered to reflect on the department's history and speculate on its future, and former and current educational program directors did the same. Guests attended hands-on workshops led by HCII faculty and guests on topics ranging from game design to 3D printing. A poster and demo session highlighted the research of more than 50 students and alumni.
"We were overwhelmed at the enthusiastic response from all corners," said event co-organizer and HCII Professor Brad Myers. "It was great to see so many alumni participating, some coming from as far away as California, the United Kingdom, Finland and Moscow! We even had to close registration because more people wanted to attend than we could safely fit in our available space. Feedback from attendees was uniformly positive."
"It was a real joy to welcome back our HCII family — it felt like a homecoming weekend," said Amy Ogan, event co-organizer and assistant professor of HCII. "We can't wait to celebrate our 25th!"
HCII20 wasn't all work and no play, though. MHCI alumni gathered together for a reception Friday afternoon, followed by the HCII20 kickoff cocktail party later that evening. After a day of panels and keynote addresses on Saturday, everyone regrouped at the Omni William Penn hotel downtown for a grand reception and dinner.
After 20 years, a little celebrating was in order.