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HCDE Alumni Q&A: Hannah Nursalim (MS '19)

September 11, 2019

The department of Human Centered Design & Engineering welcomes individuals interested in making the world a better place through design. To help illustrate the type of students who put the "H" in HCDE, we are highlighting the backgrounds and experiences of several of our students and recent graduates in a new series of blog posts. Follow along!

Hannah Nursalim in the UW reading room
Hannah Nursalim (HCDE MS '19)

Job title:
UX Researcher
Full-time or part-time student:
Part-time during my first year; Full-time my second year
Undergraduate degree:
BS, Psychology, University of Washington
San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, CA

Q: What led you to the Master's program in HCDE?

A: After graduating from undergrad, I contemplated pursuing a graduate degree in psychology. I got a job as a research study assistant in a child development lab to test those waters. After a year, I knew that a graduate psych degree wasn't for me, and I went into that "I need to figure out what's next" mode. My friend introduced me to UX and told me about the program. I dug deeper to learn what UX is and what the MS HCDE program has to offer, and it clicked! Pursuing a career in UX would allow me to do what I've always wanted to do: work with people and make an impact on people's lives.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the program?

A: What I enjoyed most was meeting people in the program, learning from them, and networking with them. I've made some lifelong friends in the program. I met many people from different backgrounds and experiences which have contributed to my skills and growth in the program. There was always a learning opportunity from peers in each class I took. It truly is a collaborative program, and I enjoyed supporting others and receiving support.

Q: What projects or research groups were you involved with?

A: During my last quarter, I was in Julie Kientz's Directed Research Group (DRG) about designing, creating, and evaluating a Children's Digital Media Design Toolkit. We reviewed literature/research on child development and interaction design and children and prototyped toolkits that translate research studies into design guidelines. For my capstone project, my team worked with Seattle Children's Hospital (our sponsor) in designing a waiting room experience that provides distraction from life with cancer. We spent two quarters conducting research, ideating design ideas based on research, and designing our final deliverables. My team's capstone project was a highly rewarding and impactful project. HCDE instructors and industry professionals also saw the value and impact of our project because we won the "Best in Show: Graduate" award at the 2019 HCDE Open House.

Q: Did you work or complete an internship while you were in graduate school? If so, what did you do?

A: During my first year in the program, I continued working as a research study assistant at the child development lab. I worked mostly full time during the fall and winter quarters and went down to part-time in spring quarter. I left that job for a summer internship at OfferUp where I was a UX Research intern. During my second year, I obtained TA positions for fall and winter quarter.

Q: How has HCDE helped you in your career goals?

A: HCDE gave me the foundation and tools I needed to pursue a UX Research career. The user-centered design course taught me the UCD process and how it typically works in industry. I learned about various research methods and where they fall in the UCD process. The usability studies course was the first research course I took in the program, and I actually used the test plan and script from that course project as my reference when I crafted studies at my summer internship. These are just some examples of how the courses have helped me with my career goals. Additionally, the instructors and HCDE community have been helpful in giving advice and insights into tackling interviews, telling your story, and working in industry.


Are you an HCDE alumnus interested in sharing your HCDE story? Let us know by emailing and we will be in touch.