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Inviting clients for 2018 HCI capstone projects


five students diagramming with colorful note paper on both walls of a narrow hallway

Sponsors Needed for HCI Student Capstone Projects

The Human-Computer Interaction Institute is currently seeking client sponsors for spring semester 2018 projects. Capstone projects benefit both parties -- sponsors get hundreds of hours of skilled research and development, while students gain valuable experience on a real-world project. If you are interested in partnering with the HCII this spring, details about the undergraduate and graduate HCI capstone projects are below. 


Undergraduate Human-Computer Interaction Capstone Project

Our talented undergraduate HCI students have built the controls for a kid-oriented robot, improved a dental informatics system, designed an interactive exhibit for the Carnegie Museum and built an application to help players on the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team to learn their playbook. Other recent projects include: educational software, a decision aid for patients considering lung transplants, an interface to control a semi-autonomous off-road robotic vehicle, a redesign of The Economist's online debate website, a "chair-side" display of medical records for dentists and interactive displays for art and environmental museum exhibits. Other interesting prototypes built by our student teams include a video game to help orthopedic surgery patients with their rehab exercises to novel controls for a robotic arm for quadriplegics. We are looking for 6 to 8 project clients for the spring semester 2018.

OVERVIEW: Every spring, teams of 4 to 5 seniors from several disciplines (Computer Science, Design, Psychology, Information Systems, and more) majoring in Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon complete a semester-long project for both internal and external clients. Projects involve several phases: user-centered research to assess needs, interaction design, prototyping, and several rounds of user testing and redesign. The final deliverable is a functional prototype with complete documentation of research and code, which clients often turn into fully functional products by hiring one or more members of the project team for the summer.

REQUIREMENTS: Projects begin in mid-January and finish in early May. The best projects for students and clients tend to be well-scoped from the beginning, based on an existing product, balancing flexibility and structure. Although clients do not pay for the projects, they must commit to weekly contact with their student team, with at least one person on the client side who will spend a few hours per week providing materials, software, and feedback to the students as needed. Clients must be willing to commit to quick turn-around time in response to requests from the project team. With a 15-week life cycle, response times of even a few days simply kill a project. It is also crucial that the project teams have easy access to potential users of the system. Although the students will be proactive in scheduling sessions with users, clients must make sure users are available.

COST: Free!

NEXT STEPS:  If you have a project that could benefit from the expertise of our students, please send a short (1 to 3 paragraph) description of your project to Robert Kraut by November 15, 2017. (Be sure to include the contact information of your intended client liaison.) We will invite 6 to 12 potential clients to give a very short presentation to the students in early December. The students will then vote their preferences, and projects will be selected and student teams formed prior to winter break.


Master of Human-Computer Interaction Capstone Project

The MHCI Capstone Project is the premier engagement with the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, delivering the greatest educational benefit to the students and deepest exploration for industry partners. Capstone Projects provide fundamental integration between a student team, faculty mentors, and a corporate sponsor, focused on an area of exploration and design development driven by the industry partner. The equivalent of a masters thesis, the Capstone serves as the culmination of the student’s MHCI experience and is often a means by which corporate sponsors can explore products, services, and emerging technologies that may not fit into their existing roadmaps. Capstone projects have been used to invigorate existing teams or to supplement corporate partners without an internal experience team. Over the 23 years of the program, MHCI has partnered with an enormous range of companies from early stage start ups, to tech giants, and non-profits.

OVERVIEW: The duration of an MHCI capstone project is 8 months.  A team of 4 to 6 students and 2 faculty advisors is assigned to each project.  The project sponsor is expected to serve as a domain expert and provide regular critique and collaboration with the team.  For shorter duration projects, sponsors can consider Independent Studies and Externships, which range from 1 to 3 months. 

COST: A gift to the university as defined with the CMU team.

NEXT STEPS: For more information about sponsoring an MHCI capstone project, please contact Jenn McPherson.