Rufei Fan on HCI

By The Digital Humanities Editorial Team

Rufei Fan graduated in March 2018 with a degree in Cognitive Science and a DH Minor.

What have you been up to since graduation?

First I traveled with my family to the East Coast, then I went to Japan with my boyfriend and hardcore hiked Fuji Mountain. I moved to Pittsburgh on August 12 to start a masters in Human Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, so I’ve been here for about a month.

Sounds interesting! What does it involve?

I am very interested in HCI, and that’s actually why I started the digital humanities minor. It’s very relevant to the future. My background is cognitive science, which I see as a blending of the brain with technology.

How do you see HCI impacting society?

To me, what I’m studying is design. Designing a solution to better bridge the two sides of the world, users and their tools. 0 and 1. Emotion versus logic.

My concentration is in assistive technology, designing tools to help users with disabilities. Society needs to have more compassion and empathy to different kinds of users. Bridging the gap between computer technology and the human is a start.

Why did you get involved with the DH program?

I hated being a software engineer, but I’m neither a full humanities person. I wanted to do a blend of both.

What was your favorite experience?

My first awesome group project (the only awesome group project throughout my undergraduate career) was through DH. I hated group projects until DH101. It rekindled my passion for technology.

All DH101 projects are very free form; you get to explore whatever you want to do with a dataset. It’s interesting to see people’s different perspectives approaching problems and integrating different methods. It’s not you do this and you do that, it’s a very collaborative and creative environment. You learn so much without even knowing it.

How has DH helped you with your internships/ how will it help your career?

Every class in grad school is a group project, very similar to my DH experience. I learned a ton of skills. You think you don’t know them but it’s such a good foundation for picking up later – I use HTML/CSS and tableau now, but I’m not scared because Professor Posner already taught me!

Do you have any advice to new DH minors?

My advice would be to take DH101 and see how you feel. You will work with a group in a different manner, more like a real-life environment. You will be able to explore more. It broadens your understanding.

New jobs and fields of study are coming everyday. We have so much data we can study and so many people to study too, and DH follows these trends and tries to predict what’s going to important in the future. If you don’t know what to do, you should check out DH101 or Professors Posner and Garcia to start a conversation.