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Human Computer Interface (Computer Science)
Throughout my undergraduate career, I have engaged myself in activities that merge the components of art, human behavior and technology to enable better learning methods amongst youth and I want to continue to do so at a professional level. Graduate studies in HCI will enable me to develop the skills to create software designs that I can subsequently apply in an academic environment to promote e-learning techniques. Since I lived in India for ten years and am aware of the large number of disadvantaged, poor and handicapped people, I would eventually like to implement such methods in the underserved segments of an Indian society. I am attracted by the vast research facilities at UG that can be a major resource in developing effective interactive computer interfaces. Research projects on learning technologies like the Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education (Hi-Ce) is of particular interest to me since it deals with the academic development in youth by blending the social sciences with technical components.
In order to broaden my understanding of the role of cognition in everyday computer applications, I have taken several courses at UCSB in the specific area of cognitive science. My coursework has also investigated the cognitive basis of successful multimedia designs while looking at its impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of information systems. In addition to these challenging courses, I have gained extensive knowledge about interactive designs and computer mediated communication through computer science courses, research projects, industrial experience and organizational involvement.
During my second year at UCSB, I joined Worldguide, WashSpace at the XYZ Institute of Oceanography as a summer intern. I worked with the Worldguide team in creating internet-based courses on Earth and Environmental science for K-12 students. I had the URL for Worldguide added as a useful link to the official websites of 27 state boards of K-12 education across the US as well as an Australian board of education. The most difficult part of this project was organizing all the information we had gathered in a clear and concise way to enhance learning. I found it particularly challenging to design an attractive layout of the material that would appeal to K-12 children. However, as a team we were able to coordinate our efforts and achieve our goal.
While I lived in India, I was an active member of the Red Cross Committee. Through this organization, I spent a year with the poor people in slums, playing with the children and helping out in the one-room school. Additionally, I had the opportunity of reading to students at the school for blind children for three years. While these activities were both educational and enjoyable, they also provided me with a unique experience in the basics of communication against the backdrop of emotional and physical handicap.
Additionally, I have been able to explore a variety of marketing techniques as well as learn more about digital aesthetics through the UCSB Advertising club. Thus, I have had wonderful opportunities to combine my interests in working with people, computers and art. Although I have learned a lot from these experiences, I feel that with further training in HCI I could improve my performance in developing effective user interface designs and information architectures. I am convinced that the HCI program and research opportunities involving education and youth at SI will help me succeed in pursuing my ambition of advancing computer mediated education in an underserved community. I have had plenty of experience in creating and developing interactive e-learning courses for underprivileged students in particular, that I could share with research projects that address educational problems faced in rural environments. Thus, the combination of my interest in working with people and technology to help the academic development in youth from underserved communities along with my background makes me an ideal candidate for any such research opportunities with the SI department at UG.