Harrisburg University recently launched a new lab with the goal of giving students studying interactive media a platform to learn through real-world experience.
In the “User Experience Center,” students and faculty work with outside clients to test their products for user friendliness through data collection, analyses and generating reports, explained the director of the center, Adams Greenwood-Ericksen.
“Generally, what we do is make stuff work better,” he said. ‘We want students to get experience doing the work.”
The center goes hand-in-hand with the interactive media major, which has three concentrations students can hone in on: advanced media production, interaction and experience design, and purposeful game design.
From this major, five student interns test clients’ video games, websites, education software and other products and receive suggestions for improvements. The process for one client usually takes one or two weeks and in the end, students are left with experience and a resume booster.
The interactive media major has already doubled in undergrad enrollment since the three concentrations were added and with the center being constructed, it is expected to grow even more, explained Tamara Peyton, assistant professor of interactive media.
However, Peyton added that the program is also about giving back to Harrisburg.
“We are investing back in the area and augmenting workforce development in the region,” she said.
Other than Harrisburg University’s User Experience Center, Peyton knows of only two others in the nation. One is at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., where Greenwood-Ericksen taught before coming to Harrisburg. In fact, Greenwood-Ericksen brought much of HU’s current client base with him when he relocated here.
While the team is servicing many large-scale national and international clients currently, Greenwood-Ericksen mentioned they want to take on more local clients.
Coming late spring, HU will begin operating the User Experience Center out of new space on S. 3rd Street, further expanding the university’s footprint downtown. With rooms for testing and researching, this will allow them to expand their staff and take on more clients.
“We want to be a resource for locals,” Greenwood-Ericksen said. “The idea is to promote connections.”
Harrisburg University’s User Experience Center will be located at 10 S. 3rd St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit https://harrisburgu.edu/hu-launches-user-experience-center/.