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Comparative Study Of Human Computer Interaction Design And Software Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Teaching Software Engineering Process

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.325.1 - 10.325.10



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Paper Authors

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Larry Young

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John Fernandez

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


John D. Fernandez & Larry Young Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi


Many computer science programs require students to complete software engineering and human computer interaction (HCI) courses. Upon graduation, these students join other software professionals in the field to contribute to the development community. However, the differences in the two approaches to developing interactive software are not addressed so that students leave the institution without an integrated view of the two methodologies. Professors at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi teach courses in software engineering and HCI and assign students to community projects where students practice the principles they are learning and complete worthwhile products for real-world clients. This paper presents some of these experiences and compares the interaction design and software engineering methodologies. The conclusions reached by the authors provide a basis for further study of the integration of these two paradigms and a preliminary integrated model of the two methodologies.


In San Jose, California, in June of 2004, the San Jose Police department began using a new mobile dispatch system in every patrol car. Police officers commented that, “the system is so complex and difficult to use that it is jeopardizing their ability to do their jobs”6. The police officers were not consulted about the design of the user interface and they felt the interface was unsatisfactory. Several experts, consulted by the New York Times, agreed the user interface was unsatisfactory6. How could this happen with an interface that must be used in emergency situations? Apparently, this was a $4.7 million off-the-shelf system from Intergraph Corporation, which was in use in other cities. It certainly makes one wonder how police officers are using, or not using, the system in these cities.

Most people believe that computers are tools to accomplish something. Computers do what they are told; they do not have an agenda. If problems arise from technology, the users are to blame1. It is easy to blame the users (as management did in the case of the San Jose Police Department), but in this case, as in most other cases, it appears there are other causes. Historically, for the software developer, the user interface has been much less important than the underlying software. The software development machine is focused on achieving its defined goals of efficient development and product delivery. The user is forced to adjust to the system that resulted from the programmer-centered development effort5.

Alan Cooper2 commented that he could not see the broader perspective of software development until he extricated himself from the programming grip. He claims that only then did he see that programming is such a difficult and absorbing task that it dominates all other considerations, including the concerns of the user. Since the early 1990s, Cooper has focused most of his efforts towards the new discipline of human computer interaction (HCI) design.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Young, L., & Fernandez, J. (2005, June), Comparative Study Of Human Computer Interaction Design And Software Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15527

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