Michigan Tech Hiring 1st Professor of Practice in UX/UI

What do you think of when you think of Michigan Technological University? Hockey? Snow? Engineering? In addition to all of those things, Michigan Tech is also home to a well-established Graduate Program in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors and Undergraduate Program in Scientific and Technical Communication. The University sees great value in these areas of study, and now their user experience presence continues to grow up in the Upper Peninsula!

Michigan Tech is currently developing a proposal for a new Bachelor’s Degree in Human Factors. To support this initiative, the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences and the Department of Humanities are looking to hire a Professor of Practice in user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design.

What is a professor of practice? Universities hire professionals with strong industry experience and knowledge to teach the next generations of professionals. These professors of practice usually act as a bridge to connect industry and academia. Professors of practice are more commonly seen in business and engineering programs. Based on our research, this is the first position of its kind in the state of Michigan in the field of user experience.

Michigan Tech is looking for someone with seven or more years of UX industry experience, has served in technical lead or leadership roles, and is actively involved in UX professional communities. Some of the main responsibilities for this full-time faculty position will include (1) teaching multiple, small upper-level courses related to UI/UX (e.g., 14-25 students per course) and developing other programs; (2) establishing and collaborating with industry partners, and (3) helping support student’s academic and career success. If interested, the Professor of Practice may also engage in interdisciplinary research with faculty across campus.

Interested in teaching? Want to be part of Michigan UX history? It’s not too late to apply! To learn more about this position, check out Michigan Tech’s Professor of Practice, UI and UX Design job posting. The position will begin in August of 2021. (And yes, you will need to live in the UP.)

Ignite UX Michigan, 3/16 & 3/23

Mike Beasley at Ignite UX Michigan 2015

Caption for image above: Mike Beasley, one of the Ignite UX Michigan organizers, doing his best airline steward impression: pointing to exits, in 2015.

Ignite UX Michigan has become a staple of our community over the years, with people traveling to Ann Arbor from Detroit, East Lansing, and Toledo for an evening of fascinating talks and an overall good time. It was canceled in 2020 but is going online in March (of 2021). We thought it was a good time to check in with the Ignite UX Michigan team and get the scoop on what is coming up later in March.

For people who have never participated in Ignite UX Michigan before, what is it all about?

Ignite UX Michigan is normally a free, in-person, evening event in an informal setting where you can see 10-12 lightning talks on UX and UX-adjacent topics. The lightning talk format we use puts speakers in front of 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, for a total of 5 minutes. This format gives speakers a way to deliver a clear, punchy point and it brings a lot energy to the talks. Our goal is to give people that you don’t normally see speaking at UX events an opportunity to get experience, and ultimately improve the diversity of voices in the UX community. Our speakers mainly come from Southeast Michigan and nearby areas, although we occasionally have people travel from further away. We get a mix of speakers and attendees, from students to experienced professionals. Our event has happened once a year from 2013 through 2019, but last year we ended up cancelling and are experimenting with a virtual format this year.

Yes, this year will be different! What will be different because it will be virtual?

The biggest difference this year will be that you don’t have to drive to Ann Arbor in the snow! More seriously, a big difference is that Ignite UX Michigan previously took place at bars where you could mingle with other UX people before and after the talks. Although we want to use breakout rooms to give attendees some space to meet our sponsors and have a separate space for chatting, ultimately the virtual format just isn’t set up for 1-on-1 interactions. On the other hand, we hope it’ll be easier to see and hear the talks: no bar background noise! There will be a more structured QA session after the talks.

Attending is fun: what about speaking at it?

We encourage people to use the event as a way to get experience speaking. You also get a video of your talk, posted on our YouTube channel.

Watch past Ignite UX Michigan talks on YouTube.

What sort of topics can people expect to hear this time?

Our speakers this time will be talking about accessibility, UX and Agile, industrial manufacturing, and career development, to name a few topics. As usual, we’ve got a mix of topics!

How do people register?

This year, along with the virtual format (using Zoom), we are also experimenting with splitting the event into 2 evenings. You can register on Eventbrite for March 16 or March 23 (or both). 6:30-8:30pm with 5 talks, both nights. Free!

“What we can learn from Bubble Tea Shops in Taiwan” by Blair Shen, at Ignite UX Michigan 2019.

Check out igniteuxmi.com for more about the event. See you there, even if we cannot hang out at a bar this time.

Josie Scott, Michigan UX Community Founding Mother

“It turns out that my interest and passion is in the piece of the pie where we are looking at users and understanding what they do and what they need.” – Josie Scott, History of IA Panel, World IA Day Ann Arbor, 2012.

We lost one of our community’s founders on Christmas Day when Josie Scott passed away after a long battle with cancer

Josie’s professional journey.

If you look at Josie’s LinkedIn page, you will see her career as a usability practitioner and user research leader at some of the most prominent companies in Michigan. She was at Borders in 2000, Compuware in 2005, TechSmith in 2010, and GE Capital/Synchrony Financial at the end of her career.

But she was also active in our professional community (locally and nationally). She was a super hero on the Usability in Civic Life project. She wrote articles for UXPA Magazine and reported on UXPA conferences

Sarah Swierenga remembers Josie as a passionate advocate, a fierce fighter for justice, a good friend, and trusted colleague. Sarah met her around 2005 when they worked on the U(X)PA Usability and Voting project together. They took a memorable road trip to Erie, PA, to give usability/accessibility training to state election poll workers. While it was Sarah’s first voting project, Josie was a pro, of course! She truly is missed.

Josie explaining “user control and freedom” in the context of hospital gowns.

Locally, she shared her mobile usability testing adventures in 2013. She talked about innovation at Michigan World Usability Day in 2015. She advocated for plain language and taught usability basics. She did countless other presentations and workshops for her Michigan UX colleagues.

She got very personal during her heuristic evaluation of being a cancer patient.

During the World Information Architecture Day panel in 2012, Josie reflected on our local community (starting at the 34 minute mark). “People were very, very, generous with what they knew and what they shared and I personally learned so much from everyone.”

She casually adds “I may have made a small contribution or two in my time.” Yes, Josie, you made much more than a small contribution to the UX community in Michigan! You are one of our “Founding Mothers.”

Josie’s family invites you to visit her memorial page, read stories about Josie, and contribute your own.

Josie proudly wearing her Detroit UX t-shirt in 2017.

December Newsletter

This morning, the December 2020 email newsletter went out.

It features the announcement of the Community Holiday Party, December 17, 6-8pm, on Wonder (a fun, new way to gather online). Free, but registration on Eventbrite is required.

Other events in December are also listed in the newsletter.

Finally, it includes information on how to propose projects for UMSI classes.

If you are not already subscribed to the newsletter, sign up.

Projects for UMSI UX classes

Every semester, hundreds of University of Michigan students complete industry projects as part of their School of Information course work in usability evaluation, user research, and other subjects.

Your organization (business, non-profit, government agency, etc.) can propose a project for a team of students to work on! Here are some reasons why:

Your organization is just starting to focus on user interface design but does not have the resources to do user research or usability testing.Have a student team tackle one of your most pressing challenges. You will get insights you can apply right away, plus have an example to show the value.
Your UX team is overworked.Pick a project from your list that is lower priority but still important, as a way to extend your team’s output while also helping students learn.
You plan to hire UX practitioners.Propose a project as a way to meet some of the top emerging UX talent in Michigan (and the world).
You are not familiar with the UMSI curriculum.Get a glimpse into what one of the oldest and most innovative UX academic programs is doing. If you like what they are teaching, update some of your methods or send some of your employees off to get a degree.

Example projects

  • A tool that needs an evaluation to ensure it meets the needs of your users.
  • A dynamic website that needs a user experience assessment.
  • An information problem you are trying to solve but are unsure of a potential solution.
  • An idea for a product that would meet the needs of an aging population or people with disabilities that you need help researching and designing.

Courses seeking clients

About the courseClient expectations & receivables
SI 622: Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation
Masters students work with clients to evaluate how well the user experience of their existing product or service meets the needs of its users. Methods used include: interaction map, user interviews, competitive analysis, survey, heuristic evaluation, user testing. See the FAQ for clients.
Give feedback on and receive deliverables for each of these assignments.

Meet weekly with students, connect students with users for user interviews (5 people), survey (50 people), and user testing (5 people).

Receive a series of reports and analyses, plus a final video presentation.
SI 682: Advanced User Research in the Field
Masters students conduct advanced user research methods for information challenges that are early in the product life cycle.
Meet with students, provide feedback, and must provide access to users.

Receive a polished report or presentation of findings.
SI 699: UX Research and Design Mastery Course
Masters students in their final semester will research and design a tool or product, with a focus on accessibility for disabled, and/or aging populations.
Meet with students, provide feedback, and must provide access to users.

Receive a report of research and design.

To propose a project, complete the form at umsi.info/clientregister or email umsi.client.engagement@umich.edu.

To learn more about client opportunities with the School of Information, visit umsi.info/clientopportunities.