Masters Student Work

Through graduate work, our students gain an analytic and empathic understanding of the past and present to better envision positive futures. At each stage of the design process they practice communicating their ideas through critiques, pitches, talks, blogs, presentations, specifications, videos, demonstrations, and articles. The following images describe actions that are commonly conducted throughout design processes and feature work that emerges from the MA, MPS, and MDes programs.

For the third and final project in Introduction to Interaction Design, MA students focused on how to improve experiences with public transit. Their process involved exploratory research, concept generation, evaluative research, and iteration. The final concept included the Via app, which presents variable transit options based on the user's mood and personal values. The associated marketing campaign, which would be featured at the different transit stops around the city, invites potential users to see how the app might align to their values as exhibited by the various characters that appear in the ads.

Students: Rachel Alexander, Edwin Cho, Krystal Tung, and Ashley Varrato

In the design seminar, Interaction and Service Design Concepts, students curated and edited their own publication on the issues facing interaction design today, titled Dichotomies. They write: "Interaction design draws upon a wide and diverse set of disciplines and the intersection of these various knowledges can sometimes create sharp contrasts and contradictions. In this publication we will wrestle with the messy issues and explore the limits of our own dichotomies."

Project Aspen speculates the museum experience to be more relevant and reflective by facilitating personalized discovery through a mixture of tangible and digital interactions. With an aim to build more coherent experience for users and intimate connections between artifacts and exhibits at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, students designed five components: discovery interface, digital placard, touch table, takeaway foldable postcard, and website.

Students: Suzanne Choi, Zahin Ali, Brendon Gouveia, and Denise Nguyen
Client: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Students designed a conversational AI counselor service, including the way it would record, analyze, and display content and how users would interact with the interface to increase self-reflection.

Students: Cathryn Ploehn, Gautham Bagepelly, and Ulu Mills.

While conducting a project in the MDes/MPS Communication Design Studio, a student visualized patterns in bike crash data in Pittsburgh as a means of emphasizing challenges and encouraging conversations to address problems. The piece highlights the time of crashes, amount of crashes per month, categories that represent types of crashes, and location of individual crashes. The visualization also utilizes hierarchy as a means of isolating specific pieces of information and making them prominent. Leveraging Donald Norman's Appropriateness Principle, the student used changes in value to signal time of day, color hue to represent various types of crashes, position to indicate the location of crashes, and a dial to describe the amounts of crashes per month.

Student: Jaeyeon Huh

After conducting extensive literature and artifact reviews and user-testing of initial ideas aimed at leveraging design to encourage a growth mindset among learners, a second year MDes student analyzed and synthesized her discoveries as a set of design approaches that warranted further development. She used the formalized ideas as a means of informing her next steps, which evolved into the creation of tools to assist a range of students at various stages of points in their learning.

Student: Chen Ni

Students in the Transition Design Seminar engage in exercises to map a wicked problem and identify stakeholders and their relations. Here students are working on the wicked problem of the decline of pollinators in Pittsburgh.

Students: Edwin Cho and Krystal Tung

Students in the Transition Design seminar map the wicked problem of elderly isolation in Pittsburgh to identify conflicting and symbiotic relationships between its stakeholders. They then conduct research to understand the problem's historical emergence, integrate a long-term future vision in which the problem has been resolved to create a large, spatio-temporal matrix within which design interventions can be situated. This diagram illustrates the types of interventions which would help people satisfy their needs at different levels of scale (household, neighbourhood, city, region and planet), while addressing the problem of elderly isolation and strengthening the social and ecological fabric of everyday life.

Students: Corine Britto, Sujan Das Shrestha, Helen Hu, Anukriti Kedia, Eugenia Perez Matheus and Shariwa Sharada

Abstracts and full text documents of recent Thesis Projects can be explored in our Research Showcase.