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Celebrating 25 Years of the HCII


5 directors of the HCII stand in front of a banner and hold silver 25 balloons during the HCIIs 25th anniversary celebration

Almost 400 people celebrated the Human-Computer Interaction Institute’s 25th anniversary on October 24 and 25, 2019 at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Thursday and Friday event featured panel presentations about the past, present and future of the field of HCI, open houses at more than 20 HCII lab spaces and plenty of networking opportunities with old friends and new.

Guests checked in late Thursday morning and made their way to the Atrium of Newell-Simon Hall where Jodi Forlizzi, Geschke Director and Professor at the HCII, and Martial Hebert, Dean of the School of Computer Science, were on stage to welcome them to the event. (Recordings of the welcome and all three HCI panel presentations can be found at the bottom of this story.)

Forlizzi, who has been director of the HCII for the past two years, provided an in-depth update about the HCII department and highlighted recent faculty hires and their research areas. Their collective expertise will help the department to further its mission to advance society through the design, development and study of computing in all aspects of life.

After a brief lunch break, the first group panel of the event reminisced about the founding days of the HCI Institute. “A Historical View of the HCII” panel featured Bonnie John, former MHCI program director; Sara Kiesler, professor emeritus; Ken Koedinger, professor of HCI at CMU; Bob Kraut, professor emeritus; Brad Myers, professor of HCI at CMU; Dan Olsen, former HCII director; Dan Siewiorek, professor and former HCII director; Dan Boyarski, professor emeritus and founding designer at the HCII; and Jim Morris, professor emeritus and panel moderator.

Guests dispersed after the history panel to see lab demos in the HCII’s three buildings: Newell-Simon Hall, 300 S. Craig Street and 407 S. Craig Street.

On Thursday evening, guests were also invited to attend a cocktail reception at the Andy Warhol Museum. After a few words by students, alumni and invited guests, everyone gathered in the museum’s auditorium to watch the debut of a new HCII retrospective video by BOOM Creative. “BOOM really captured the history and essence of the HCII, from the story of how it was founded to the great spirit of the staff, students, and faculty that are here today. They helped to tell our important story, and convey how important people are here,” Forlizzi said. 

The festive table decorations at the Warhol were as unique as the field of HCI itself. Instead of flowers or more traditional centerpieces, the cocktail tables featured artifacts of past and present HCI research projects. A few older projects provided a bit of HCI nostalgia, including the VuMan from 1991 (CMU’s first wearable Computer), The Information Percolator from 1999, and early prototypes of the Snackbot from 2009. 

A variety of more recent research from the department also proved to be great conversation starters, including a 3D printed tactile map of the CMU campus, the Electro Dermis from the Morphing Matter Lab, and Acoustruments project from the Fig Lab.

After a fun evening at the Warhol, guests reconvened on Friday morning in Rashid Auditorium for breakfast and the two remaining panels. 

“Human-Computer Interaction Today” featured panelists Patrick Carrington, assistant professor of HCI at CMU; Derek Lomas, assistant professor of industrial design at TU Delft; Amy Ogan, Thomas and Lydia Moran Professor of Learning Science at CMU; and Lining Yao, assistant professor of HCI and engineering at CMU. Sarah Fox, presidential postdoctoral fellow at CMU, moderated the panel.

The final panel of the event, “HCI - The Future of Our Field,” featured Chris Harrison, assistant professor of HCI at CMU; Roberta Klatzky, professor of psychology at CMU; James Landay, professor of computer science at Stanford University; Haiyi Zhu, assistant professor of HCI at CMU, and was moderated by John Zimmerman, Tang Family Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction at CMU.

In between sessions, guests enjoyed the ShutterBooth photo booth at both days of the event. A collection of more than 600 photos -- those taken on-site at the booth and also public photos shared on Twitter and Instagram and tagged with #hcii25 -- were printed on stickers in real time throughout the event. Each sticker was labeled with grid coordinates so that guests could apply it to its designated area in order to create a lasting photo mosaic from the event.

The final sticker was placed on the board at the conclusion of the event revealing one of the original mantras of the department, “The user is not you.” After two days of celebration, the HCII is ready to continue to advocate for the user and carry that message forward for the next 25 years. 


Want to see more photos from the event? View the 25th anniversary photo album on Facebook.


HCII 25th Anniversary Recordings

Couldn't make it to the HCII's 25 Anniversary celebration? All of the recordings from the event are embedded below.

Welcome Remarks by Forlizzi and Hebert 


“A Historical View of the HCII” Panel Recording


“Human-Computer Interaction Today” Panel Recording



“HCI - The Future of Our Field” Panel Recording