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Interview with Denzil Ferreira, MHCI Alumni

05th November 2014


Denzil Ferreira granted us an interview about his experience as a MHCI student. Denzil is currently teaching at Carnegie Mellon University. Read the complete interview below:


Denzil Ferreira -I’ve been invited to be a co-instructor of the class User-Centered Research and Evaluation (UCRE) for this Fall semester. My objective is to share my experience on the methods and techniques we use daily for research, as well as in practice with user-centric design.  Traditionally, this class has relied on theory to explain the methods. Now that I’m on board, I’ll be able to demonstrate a few real-world examples of the output of the techniques they are learning: videos, pictures, models, and prototypes. This hopefully will provide this year’s MHCI students with practical advice for their Capstone projects. It has been a great experience for me and hopefully for the students. I can’t wait to see what the students come up with in their Capstone project deliverables.

M-ITI - Can you briefly describe your background and how you learned about the MHCI?

DF - I attended the University of Madeira Computer Science’s program (1st and 2nd cycle). It provided me with the tools I needed to implement software and materialise hardware. While on the program, I was motivated to apply for the MHCI program simply because I wanted to learn more about design, evaluation and real-world use of what I could create. That meant creating something others would perceive as usable. Completing the MHCI program allowed me to do that and much more.

M-ITI - How long did it take for you to get a job after graduating? How many jobs have you had since then?

DF - No time at all. Although the program is advertised as a Professional program and is geared to push you to industry, I took a different path. I was more interested in research and tinkering with technology. During the program, I got experience doing so by collaborating with faculty, both at CMU as well as in Madeira. After my graduation, I pursued a PhD in Ubiquitous Computing and completed it last year in September. I’ve continued to collaborate with the faculty from the program and I’m now progressing in my academic career. Being an academic, I’ve collaborated with industry on multiple occasions, so we do get a lot of exposure on what we do. So in practice, it felt like I already had a job, even during the program!

M-ITI - Where are you working right now? What are your main responsibilities?

DF -Primarily, I’m teaching two classes at the University of Oulu: Human-Computer Interaction; and Mobile and Social Computing. I’m employed by the University of Oulu. This September, I became an Academy of Finland Post-doc Fellow until 2017. This means I can work anywhere in the world as I have my own funding for research. Coming to CMU to teach for the Fall is part of this research mobility experience. My main goal now is to collaborate and extend my research network and visit the best research laboratories in the world.

M-ITI - Was the MHCI important in your professional career? How?

DF - Yes, indeed. I would have not have met the amazing people that motivated me to continue learning and who pushed me forward to do my PhD and subsequently to pursue an academic career. MHCI was just the first push to realise what I could still dream some more.

M-ITI - What was the best thing about the program and in particular the dual-campus experience?

DF - I would say the best thing is the people you meet and work with. All program participants bring something exciting and unique to the program and it changes every single year. I’m fortunate enough to have met almost every generation of students from the program. The dual-campus experience was great. It allowed me to gain experience during the Summer break and still enjoy some leisure time with my team.

M-ITI - Would you like to share a funny, touching, memorable experience from the program, involving something with faculty, courses, colleagues or the social life?

DF -The most memorable experience from the program? Signing off the deliverable package. That moment, where you realise how much work and effort went into that package and that it is now ready. Most importantly, realising that you had a wonderful team all along.

M-ITI - Can we share this short interview in our website and update your data?

DF - Yes, of course.


Thank you for sharing this with us!

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