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Human Centered Design and Engineering

Department Overview

423 Sieg

Human-Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) emphasizes the learning of theories, techniques, and creative insights necessary for understanding the technological, communication, design, and social dimensions of computing that enhance human experiences. HCDE faculty have expertise from several fieldsóCognitive Psychology, Computer Science, Education, Industrial Engineering, Information Studies, Language and Literature, and Linguistics.

HCDE offers its students a strong education in user-centered design, user-interface design, usability research, human-computer interaction, human-robot interaction, information and communication systems, computer-supported cooperative work, and documentation. Our students obtain outstanding jobs, primarily in high-tech industry (e.g., Microsoft, Boeing, Intel, Amazon, T-Mobile, Google), designing user interfaces, websites, software user assistance, and other forms of user-centered communication.

HCDE emphasizes student-centered, hands-on learning. Beyond taking traditional classroom courses, students join research groups and work side-by-side with top-ranked professors to enlarge the knowledge base of the field. Our educational mission is supported by first-rate facilities. HCDE also has a strong international perspective. From technology adoption in Central Asia to humanitarian logistics in Mozambique to handheld communication design in Germany, we explore what it means to communicate globally.

HCDE prepares students to assume positions of intellectual leadership in industry, government, non-profit organizations, and academia. Whatever their professional direction, HCDE students learn the newest communication technologies and practices, the most effective information-design strategies, and the research skills appropriate to their interests. They also learn the enduring theory and principles that enable them to respond creatively to the constant changes they will encounter throughout their careers.

Undergraduate Program

Adviser
423C Sieg, Box 352315
(206) 543-1798
tcadvise@uw.edu

The Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) offers the following programs of study:

  • Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering degree
  • A minor in technical Japanese

Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering

Suggested First-Year College Courses: at least 5 credits of composition and approved mathematics or statistics (see list on HCDE website), approved science (see list on HCDE website)

Department Admission Requirements

Applicants are considered in two groups: Early admission and upper-division admission. Admission is competitive. Completion of minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. All applicants have the right to petition and appeal the department's admission decision.

Early Admission

  1. Course requirements: 35 credits to include 10 credits of approved mathematics or statistics; 15 credits of approved natural science; and 10 credits of approved written and oral communication. All courses must be completed before the July 1 application deadline.
  2. Applicants must be currently enrolled at the UW and must have completed a minimum of 15 credits taken in residence at the UW. Application deadline is July 1 for autumn quarter only.
  3. Grade requirements: Minimum 3.00 GPA in written and oral communications courses and minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA

Upper-Division Admission

  1. Course requirements: 10 credits of approved mathematics or statistics; 15 credits of approved natural science; and 10 credits of approved written and oral communication. All courses must be completed prior to the July 1 or February 1 application deadlines.
  2. 60 credits completed by application deadline: July 1 for autumn quarter and February 1 for spring quarter
  3. Students applying in the senior year must spend a minimum of four quarters in the program.
  4. Grade requirements: Minimum 3.00 GPA in written and oral communications courses and minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA

Graduation Requirements

180 credits as follows:

General Education Requirements (93 credits)

  1. Written and Oral Communication (13 credits): 5 credits of English composition from the University list; HCDE 231; 5 credits of oral/written communication from HCDE list (see adviser)
  2. Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (VLPA), and Individuals & Societies (I&S) (30 credits): Minimum of 10 credits is required in each area
  3. Mathematics and Natural Science (50 credits):
    1. Mathematics (minimum 15 credits; see list of qualifying courses on HCDE website)
    2. Science (minimum 15 credits; see list of qualifying courses on HCDE website)

Major Requirements (83-87 credits)

  1. HCDE Core (52 credits): HCDE 300, HCDE 303, HCDE 310, HCDE 313, HCDE 321, HCDE 411, HCDE 417, HCDE 418, HCDE 437, HCDE 493, HCDE 495 (3), HCDE 496 (2)
  2. Technical/Analytical (12 credits): Must include CSE 142
  3. Area of Concentration (19-23 credits): Students may choose a transcriptable option in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) or select a coherent and relevant list of approved electives to create a non-transcripted, individualized area of specialization, aligned with their personal interests or career goals. See adviser for transcriptable options and individualized area of specialization.

Free Electives (1-5 credits)

Minor

Minor Requirements: Technical Japanese: Minimum of 25 credits to include HCDE 461 (5), HCDE 462 (5), HCDE 463 (5), plus 10 credits from the approved list of elective courses. For more information, contact the Technical Japanese Office, 13 Engineering Library.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The department has identified several areas of competency for students. By achieving mastery in all these areas, upon graduation HCDE students are well prepared to advance to careers in technical communication, apply to top graduate programs, and conduct research in the field.
    Graduates are able to:
    • Understand the HCDE field
    • Write and edit at a professional level
    • Analyze communication situations and problems in scientific and technical settings
    • Identify and work with the major genres of technical communication
    • Use appropriate tools and technologies to develop communication solutions
    • Understand and use principles for effective display of information
    • Understand and practice effective content development
    • Manage HCDE projects effectively
    • Work effectively on teams
    • Be sensitive to relevant larger contexts and environments

    The Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering prepares students to assume positions of intellectual leadership in industry, government, and non-profit organizations. Students also specialize in science writing or website design. The Technical Japanese program provides a unique opportunity to develop cross-cultural experience and expertise.

    Whatever their professional direction, HCDE students learn the newest communication technologies and practices, the most effective information-design strategies, and the research skills appropriate to their interests. They also learn the enduring theory and principles that enable them to understand the constant changes they will encounter throughout their careers. Finally, their coursework takes place in the context of social and political issues and human needs.

  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Department facilities include the HCDE Computer Lab, Technical Japanese Computer Lab, Laboratory for Usability Testing and Evaluation (LUTE), and the Engineering/iSchool Writing Center (EiWC).
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors). With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: All HCDE undergraduates are required to complete at least one 3-credit internship. The supervised internship in a publications organization must be approved by the faculty adviser. As an internship substitution, students may elect to take part in a six-month co-op, sponsored by the Engineering Co-op program. Additionally, undergraduates are invited to work in research groups with HCDE graduate students and faculty.
  • Department Scholarships: Annually, HCDE selects one recipient of a College of Engineering Scholarship. The criteria for this scholarship are the applicant's prior academic history and likelihood for success in the technical communication field. Additionally, the Society for Technical Communication (STC) offers annual scholarships open to all students enrolled in a HCDE-related program.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: Students in the HCDE degree program often participate in the Student Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the Minority Science and Engineering Program (MSEP), and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE).

Of Special Note: The HCDE department is a small, academic community. Students generally call their professors by their first name and have the opportunity to work individually on projects and research supervised by HCDE faculty. Undergraduate students are encouraged to work in research groups and to attend conferences and professional meetings.

Graduate Programs

Graduate Program Coordinator
14 Loew, Box 352195
(206) 543-2567
tcadvise@uw.edu

Master of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering

HCDE offers a Master of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering (MSHCDE). (An evening program is offered through UW Educational Outreach.) A total of 41 credits is required for the MSHCDE degree, which includes 29 credits of required HCDE graduate courses and 11 credits of approved electives. MSHCDE students may elect to pursue a master's thesis or project report with the approval of their Supervisory Committee.

Admission Requirements

In making recommendations for admission, the faculty consider the following from an applicant's record:

  1. Undergraduate GPA
  2. Undergraduate degree program and work experience
  3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Verbal score
  4. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score (if applicable)
  5. Letters of recommendation
  6. Statement of goals and career objectives. A limited number of prerequisite undergraduate courses may be required.

Degree Requirements

41 credits, to include:

  1. Two courses in theory (min. 8 credits)
  2. Two courses in research methods (min. 8 credits)
  3. Coursework in society and systems (min. 4 credits)
  4. Coursework in new media design and applications (min. 8 credits)
  5. Electives (no minimum)
  6. One seminar (min. 1 credit)

Students must complete the MSHCDE program within three years of admission; most finish within one to two years. Students who wish to propose a master's thesis (HCDE 700) or internship with report (HCDE 601) should consult the adviser.

The required HCDE graduate courses include the following: HCDE 501; HCDE 502; HCDE 510; either HCDE 516 or HCDE 517; either HCDE 505, HCDE 512, or HCDE 520; HCDE 521 (1-2, max. 3).

Other courses that fulfill requirements in the four categories (theory, research methods, society and systems, and new media design and applications) must be approved by the student's Supervisory Committee chair. Courses may include coursework not only in engineering, but also in fields such as computer science, cognitive science, psychology, linguistics, behavioral science, as well as other disciplines at the UW.

Inter-Engineering Master's in Technical Japanese

The inter-engineering master's in technical Japanese is a two year degree program that combines the study of engineering and technical Japanese in a high-tech learning environment. It is the only program of its kind in the country.

Students take classes in an engineering specialty and in advanced Japanese. They spend summer quarter after their first year in Japan doing a required internship in a Japanese company or research lab. Some internships are longer. Students graduate with an inter-engineering MSE or MS degree.

Applicants who do not have an engineering or other high-tech background can follow the HCDE track and graduate with an inter-engineering MS degree.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted, students should have at least three years of college-level Japanese language study or the equivalent. The Japanese proficiency test is required for all applicants and should be taken no later than two weeks before the application deadline. If applicants are unable to make arrangements to take the test before the application deadline, they need to contact the program coordinator.

Degree Requirements

Minimum 54 credits, to include:

  1. Engineering Fields: Students must select an engineering field (usually the same as the undergraduate area of concentration) from among the following:
    1. Aeronautics and Astronautics
    2. Bioengineering
    3. Chemical Engineering
    4. Civil and Environmental Engineering
    5. Computer Science and Engineering
    6. Electrical Engineering
    7. Mechanical Engineering
  2. Credit Requirements:
    1. Distribution: 24 credits in one engineering specialty, 27 credits of coursework in technical Japanese, and 3 credits of summer internship in Japan. Note: 3 credits of internship may be substituted for 3 credits of coursework.
    2. Technical Japanese coursework:
      1. Oral communication in technical and business settings: HCDE 471 (3), HCDE 472 (3), HCDE 473 (3)
      2. Reading techniques in technical Japanese: HCDE 461 (3), HCDE 462 (3), HCDE 463 (3)
      3. Advanced Japanese for technical and business professionals: HCDE 561 (3), TC 562 (3), HCDE 563 (3)

Doctor of Philosophy

The goals and objectives of the HCDE PhD program are as follows:

  • To prepare individuals for a career as researchers, teachers, and intellectual leaders in the discipline of HCDE
  • To foster the development and dissemination of new knowledge in HCDE
  • To foster the development of an international, multi-cultural perspective and a diverse, inclusive student body and workforce in HCDE
  • To invent new technical and strategic solutions to HCDE problems

By completion of the course of study, HCDE doctoral students are able to:

  • Analyze a communication situation in its full complexity
  • Select or develop an appropriate theoretical framework to motivate an understanding of the situation
  • Select an investigative method from a broad range of methods and effectively use it for conducting an inquiry.
  • Confront specific communication problems and create solutions for them that can be defended theoretically
  • Translate theory and research findings into technical or strategic inventions for solving communication design problems

Admission Requirements

Students may be admitted to the HCDE PhD program after completing either an undergraduate degree or a master's degree in HCDE or a relevant field (up to 30 credits of master's work may be applied toward the 105-credit requirement). Because HCDE is a relatively new discipline, applicants can be expected to represent a wide range of backgrounds.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. UW HCDE PhD admission forms
  2. Official transcripts of all academic study
  3. Evidence of a minimum GPA of 3.00
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. A curriculum vitae
  6. A personal statement of objectives and research area of interest.

International students also are required to submit a TOEFL test score of at least 600, obtained within the last two years.

Degree Requirements

105 credits, to include:

  1. After having completed 30 credits of coursework, pass a preliminary examination. (Those who do not pass the preliminary examination for PhD study may proceed to finish a terminal master's degree.)
  2. Select committee chair within two quarters of passing preliminary examination.
  3. Successfully complete all course distribution and credit-hour requirements.
  4. Successfully complete the requirements for directed research.
  5. After having completed 60 credits, pass a general examination to attain formal candidacy for the PhD program (candidate's certificate).
  6. Successfully defend a dissertation proposal before a Supervisory Committee.
  7. Successfully defend the dissertation itself before a reading committee (final examination).

Students are encouraged but not required to teach; if they do teach, they are required to take the teaching seminar, HCDE 597.

Course Distribution

The coursework exposes students to the literature and multidisciplinary perspectives of the field; coursework requirements are distributed across four main thematic areas: theory, research methods, media design and applications, and society and systems. In their coursework, students encounter the main themes and intellectual diversity of the field and learn to reason about the claims of the main perspectives. Students use elective credits to broaden their perspectives or gain more depth in disciplines closely related to HCDE. Specific required core courses and other coursework requirements in the four thematic areas that all HCDE PhD students are expected to take include the following:

  • Theory: Four courses that are 3 or more credits, as follows: HCDE 501 (4), HCDE 502 (4), additional approved theory courses
  • Research Methods: Three courses that are 3 or more credits, as follows: HCDE 516 (4) or HCDE 517 (4); additional approved research methods courses
  • Media Design and Applications: Three courses that are 3 or more credits, as follows: HCDE 510 (4), HCDE 511 (5), additional approved media design courses
  • Society and Systems: Three courses that are 3 or more credits, from the following: HCDE 505 (4), HCDE 512 (4), HCDE 520 (4), other approved society and systems courses

Credit-Hour Requirements

  • 46 credits minimum core distribution requirements
  • 12 credits directed research (HCDE 596)
  • 20 credits minimum approved electives (30 credits max.)
  • 27 credits minimum dissertation

A student entering with a master's degree in HCDE may use up to 30 credits from that degree toward the PhD requirements. These 30 credits may be applied toward the core distribution requirements or toward the elective credits, as appropriate and as approved by the graduate adviser.

Research Facilities

The Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering has a well-equipped computer laboratory that effectively supports its courses and research projects. In addition, there are two specialized departmental research laboratories: the Technical Japanese Laboratory and the Laboratory for Usability Testing and Evaluation (LUTE). An award-winning magazine, Northwest Science and Technology, is produced in the department and serves as a laboratory for science-writing students. Finally, HCDE graduate students can utilize significant College of Engineering and University-level research facilities.

Financial Aid

A limited number of teaching and research assistantships and scholarships are available for the financial support of graduate students in HCDE. More information and application forms can be obtained by contacting the department.