Alumni Leadership Board
The HCDE Alumni Leadership Board connects alumni and students for community building, career connections, and industry skill-sharing.
The Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering formed an Alumni Leadership Board in January 2019. The new board brings together alumni who have a desire to give back to the next generation of HCDE graduates and build the HCDE network for years to come.
The board is charged with discovering new avenues for alumni and student community building, career mentoring, and industry skill-sharing outside the academic curriculum.
“We are out every day in the working world and seeing human-centered design applied in our jobs,” said board Vice President Paula Chuchro. “We can help students who are entering the workplace today by sharing what we are learning so far.”
Inaugural Board Members
The board meets twice a month and operates with sub-committees to plan various endeavors, including continuing education, mentorship, resource sharing, and event planning.
At the annual HCDE Alumni BBQ in September 2019, the board organized an information-gathering activity to discover ways that the board can best support the department alumni. “Since the board is new, we are first trying to figure out who is part of our alumni community,” said board member Kendall Avery. “We don’t want to just implement things that we think other alumni want from us, we want to base our decisions in data.” “It’s a very ‘inception moment,’” Chuchro joked. “It’s HCDE alumni conducting human- centered design research among other HCDE alumni.”
Now that the board has the beginning of a database, they are using it to form an understanding of what alumni wish to get from the alumni community, and how they want to give back.
In Spring 2019, Chuchro and Mike Berg, the inaugural board president, led a directed research group with HCDE students to conduct a study of HCDE career pathways. Students in the research group conducted surveys, analyzed data, and developed user personas and a journey map. The team found that many alumni want to be better connected with the department and with other alumni, but they don’t know how to get started. “We are using all of this information to influence the way we reach alumni going forward,” Berg said.
Another question to emerge from the research group is how to engage alumni who are geographically dispersed. To address the location barrier, the board is launching an online publishing platform to feature articles written by alumni, targeted to other alumni and current students. Topics may include career-seeking tips such as interviewing, negotiating, and portfolio building; on-the-job strategies for research and design projects; and emerging issues that people are experiencing in the field.
The board will begin accepting applications for new members in 2020. Board members commit to two years of service. “I’m really excited what’s to come,” said board member Gary Anderson. “For us, we’ve been building this plane as we’ve been flying it. But by now, we are prepared to onboard new members efficiently and help build off what we have started this year.”
The board wants to thank Liz Young, HCDE’s former Outreach & Events Manager, for helping form the Alumni Leadership Board. “We wouldn’t be here today without Liz’s leadership and dedication to bringing us all together,” Berg said.
HCDE accepts new member applications each year. Board members commit to two years of service on the board. Details at hcde.uw.edu/alumni-board