What the HCII Summer Research Program Experience Looks Like

Weekly Seminars

Over the course of your 10 weeks with us, we hold a weekly seminar. Seminars are geared towards helping students gain insight into and a better understanding of research, the field of HCI, grad school, and much more. 

During recent programs, seminars included:

  • The History of HCI with HCII Professor Brad Myers
  • Industry vs. Academia with HCII Professor Jason Hong
  • Mixed Reality with HCII Assistant Professor David Lindlbauer
  • Closing the AI Innovation Gap with HCII Professor John Zimmerman
  • Building to see, Building to act; Prototyping interactive devices to help you observe and prototype interactions in the wild with HCII Assistant Professor Nik Martelaro
  • Social Computing with HCII Professor Niki Kittur
  • Small Group Breakouts, students divided into groups with others outside of their research area along with a faculty or PhD ‘moderator’ to discuss their progress, challenges, how to overcome those challenges and get an outsider’s perspective 
  • Research Showcase Preparation

Based on student feedback these seminars do change from year to year, so if you are an incoming researcher and have a topic you would love to learn more about, feel free to suggest it for one of our weekly seminars! 

We also interact with companies in the Pittsburgh area that do work or research relating to HCI. We have hosted speakers and visited company offices to give students the opportunity to meet professionals in their fields from places like: AlphaLab Gear, Apple, Duolingo, Facebook Reality Lab, Google, and Schell Games

The last thing students should keep in mind is our end of summer research showcase which typically takes place at the end of the program. This is when you will want to break out your business casual to present the research you’ve spent the last 10 weeks working on. Our final research showcase is a chance to practice communicating about your research, get real feedback and connect with the HCII. It is one of the most highly ranked activities we organize!

annual group photo on the stairs

Social Activities

Once we know who will be joining us for the summer, we connect all of the students so they can “e-meet” before they arrive. Each summer we host 2-3 social activities which typically include a night out at PNC Park, and a picnic. We, along with our previous researchers, strongly encourage our new cohort to get together outside of our organized events.


Advice from Previous Researchers

At the end of each summer, we ask our researchers to provide advice to next year’s cohort. Here is what some of our previous researchers had to say:

“Take advantage of the people around you! I feel the faculty and staff at CMU have a ton of experience whether its completing research or doing work in industry; there's definitely something to be learned from everyone."

“Talk to your mentors and the people in your lab often; get to know them beyond just your projects. Having a friendship with them will make work more fun, help you work better with them, and help you stay in contact longer.”

“Don't be afraid to try things and make mistakes, this is the perfect time and place to do so.”

“Don't be afraid to ask questions or of not knowing something. The entire 10 weeks is for you to explore new boundaries, so take advantage of that!”



Life in Pittsburgh

In Pittsburgh, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by parks, museums, a variety of entertainment venues, and so much more, all within easy access of Carnegie Mellon University. We hope you enjoy your summer with us at CMU and grow to love this city as much as we do.

Here are some helpful links to familiarize yourself with CMU and the Pittsburgh area:  


view of the scoreboard at PNC Park during the student outing