Skip to main content

Meet Our Alumni: Brandon

Alumni: Brandon
Class of 2022

How did you get interested in HCI and Design?
I started as a Computer Science major as an undergraduate at UCSD, but felt that there was something missing from my studies. I happened to attend a presentation at my university about an online platform used to gather community feedback on urban design plans. I was really intrigued by the idea of using technology to solve these kinds of challenges and felt that this was what I should be studying. After the presentation, I spoke with the professors who introduced to me the concept of human-centered design, and I was hooked. The next semester, I secured a position as an undergrad researcher in the same professor’s lab and switched my major to Cognitive Science, with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction.

Why did you choose the MHCID program?
User Experience is a rapidly growing discipline. As I neared graduation with my Bachelor’s degree, I saw the requirements to break into the profession evolving and increasing. Entry-level roles as a UX Researcher went from requiring 1-3 years experience to 3-5 years plus an advanced degree. That was the deciding factor in going back to school for my Master’s degree.

I came across UCI’s MHCID program whose faculty, program flexibility, and accelerated course schedule made it one of my top choices.

What really set the MHCID program apart from others was the focus on real-world experience and application. The MHCID program culminates in a capstone project where we had the opportunity to work with real organizations, helping them tackle challenges using what we learned in the program. The capstone makes sure that everyone leaves the program with real-world work experience, something that is incredibly valuable and uncommon for new graduates to have.

What’s your most memorable experience as part of the program?
During our first course of the program, we were tasked with doing research at a location of our choosing. I decided to study surfers at a local beach. One of the activities required for our project included interviews and I was worried about how I would be able to stop surfers who were eager to get in the water or eager to go back to their cars and change to stop and do a 15 minute interview. I decided to take a risk and brought a Starbucks coffee traveler to the beach with a box of pastries from the groceries store and made a big sign that read “FREE COFFEE – ask me why” as a way to get folks’ attention. I managed to talk to more than 10 people that day over the course of a couple hours. Hearing their enthusiasm and excitement about surfing really spurred my interest and led me to learning how to surf after the program and I continue to surf today.

Where are you now and what are you working on?
I am currently a UX Researcher at Google Cloud working closely with Google Cloud Partners to better understand their needs, both as customers of Google Cloud and as business partners of Google Cloud. My team works to build the best Cloud Partner experiences available in the ever-expanding cloud industry.

Back to Meet Our Alumni