Human-centered designers are multistage problem-solvers who analyze and foresee how likely users are to use a products and life-critical systems, testing user behavior in real-world environments. Technology, organizations, and jobs need to be designed by the participation of several disciplines, where creativity, as synthesis and integration, becomes the central asset to be learned. Life-critical systems include energy, medical, aerospace, education, and telecommunication systems. A master’s in human-centered design (HCD) from Florida Tech gives graduates the educational foundation and the hands-on research experience needed to enter a career in human-centered design.
The opportunities for human-centered design careers are very diverse, and because there are so many relevant study topics, many individuals select a particular interest and specialize in it. This could include specializing in a particular area such as cognitive engineering, advanced interaction media, modeling and simulation, organization design and management, a specific life-critical domain, or complexity analysis. Human-centered design is an emerging field that offers opportunities in design and engineering research, as well as interactive, complex product development such as cockpit design that enables pilots or astronauts to control and manage risk-taking missions.
Studying for a master’s in human-centered design at Florida Tech is a multidisciplinary experience that includes other scientific disciplines, from human–computer interaction and artificial intelligence to architecture, ethnographical design, and crisis management. In addition to specializing in HCD, the School of Human-Centered Design, Innovation, and Art also offers courses on creativity and design thinking, function analysis, industrial design, and user experience.
Students and professionals who study and work in the engineering, science, aeronautics, and technology environments understand the complex concepts that arise in areas such as product development, systems or industrial design, and function and organizational analysis. Florida Tech has more than 30 years of experience educating engineering, science, technology, and management professionals to become skilled experts in a variety of unique and interdisciplinary fields—including human-centered design.
Creating a new generation of designers to lead 21st century companies focused on science, technology, and engineering demands a curriculum that blends a variety of disciplines. Florida Tech’s HCD curriculum trains professionals for such human-centered projects as life-critical systems, modeling and simulation, human factors, usability engineering, industrial design, cognitive engineering, and more—all focused on creativity, innovation, and sustainable solutions to industrial design challenges. Florida Tech’s high-tech-with-a-human-touch approach creates graduates who know how to deal with complex interconnected systems through analysis, design, and evaluation.
Guided by a world-class faculty with extensive experience in the field, students earning a master’s in human-centered design experience an intimate learning environment where class sizes are small and research is hands-on using our well-equipped design platforms. Professors at Florida Tech bring years of industry experience to the classroom, providing students with real-world understanding of the environments and issues they will face in their careers. The faculty creates a professional learning environment for students, using a highly customized curriculum for each student using independent study, research projects, and fieldwork. Professors train students to be creative, to “think design,” and to find interdisciplinary solutions that incorporate different design principles such as cognitive engineering, organizational design, or complexity analysis.
Students earning a master’s or PhD through the School of Human-Centered Design find a learning culture that supports a cross-disciplinary approach to design thinking to tackle the challenges in design, engineering, and technology. HCD students develop a unique blend of design and management skills that sets them up for success in a variety of leadership roles.
Florida Tech’s research university status ensures that students have the tools and facilities they need to conduct research in their preferred area. Florida Tech’s advanced research centers and laboratories are home to essential engineering equipment and software including the Cockpit Research Lab and the Advanced Interaction Media Lab used in advanced situational awareness in life-critical systems.
Students earning a master’s in human-centered design have state-of-the-art facilities on campus at the School of Human-Centered Design’s labs. These laboratories and instrumentation facilities provide outstanding capabilities for studies of control, complex systems design, and management; knowledge management (including big data management); visualization, including 3D printing capabilities; and tangible interactive objects design and development. Our international multidisciplinary network offers access to industry and government institutions where most graduates might continue their life endeavors.
Students tackle problems and challenges that are not merely theoretical in nature, but are practical issues regularly encountered in their career. Students have an opportunity to bring their unique insights and expertise to the project, whether it is industrial design, advanced interaction media, organization design, or cognitive engineering. In-class projects, special independent study topics, and master’s theses are all part of the curriculum.
As a leading research university, the curriculum, laboratory, and field research for students earning a master’s in HCD is robust, encouraging students to think outside the box and formulate new ideas that contribute to the field. Florida Tech is has some of the most diverse HCD labs at its disposal, including commercial aircraft and adaptable spaceship cockpit simulators, and an advanced interaction media laboratory, providing students with up-to-date equipment to conduct cutting-edge research.
HCD students work with some of the most well-respected names in science and technology, such as NASA, Boeing, SESAR (Europe), and Areva. Graduates are immediately ready to step into design and leadership roles at high-tech firms, advance in their current position, or start their own business, creating new technologies.
Graduate students in human-centered design research and apply many concepts to their projects, testing best practices and theories with real-world application. This can include a cross-disciplinary approach to design thinking, such as:
The School of Human-Centered Design at Florida Tech not only trains students in design thinking, but also to be natural leaders who understand complex relationships among technology, organizations, and people.
Student designers learn how to research, analyze, design, and evaluate highly complex and dynamic interconnected systems using many skills in complexity science, human factors, ethnomethodology, prototyping, usability engineering, and modeling and simulation. With these skills, students work in either research or industry, integrated into industrial design teams to apply this design thinking to such projects as making cockpits, control rooms and devices, safety-related complex systems, operational procedures and regulations, educational tools and methods, multi-agent systems, industrial simulators, and new living environments.
The School of Human-Centered Design develops research activities for students in:
The institute is connected to other research organizations outside Florida Tech such as NASA, Boeing, Harris, Areva, FAA, SESAR in Europe, NLET, the University of Valenciennes in northern France, and École Polytechnique in Paris.
What could my career look like with a degree in Human-Centered Design, M.S.?
As the human-centered design approach continues to be adopted by innovators in the marketplace, a greater demand is put on industry professionals who understand how to make technology more accessible, user-friendly and informative.
Earning a master’s or doctoral degree in human-centered design helps propel graduate students from diverse backgrounds, including engineering, psychology and science, to become crucial contributors to their organizations’ new technology creation and enhancement. Much like an industrial design career, this design thinking process demands professionals who are passionate about tackling and solving problems using creative thinking and innovation.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), provides detailed information about hundreds of occupations, including, desired education, overall working environment and employment prospects.
Employment of creative design thinkers in an industrial design career are projected to grow modestly through 2022, however designers working with precision instruments and medical equipment are likely to find more opportunities. Graduates with cross-disciplinary knowledge and experience will also find themselves in more demand for job opportunities since their expertise includes engineering, science, aeronautics and business.
From the systems engineer to the cognitive scientist, human-centered design graduates find themselves in the heart of the design process in an industrial design career, creating new technologies in such careers as designing advanced cockpits, control rooms, educational tools, simulators and new living environments, to name a few.
After receiving a master’s in human-centered design, many students enter a doctoral program at Florida Tech. Along with a chance to conduct additional research, a doctoral degree typically increases an individual’s earning potential and increases recognition for the graduate as a subject-matter expert. Some tuition scholarships are available.