CSC 280 - User Interfaces

Because the user is important too.


When we meet: MW 3:05-4:45
Where we meet: Wold 128
Instructor: Chris Fernandes
Office: Steinmetz 220
Office hours: MW 12-2 and Tues 10:50-12:50 or anytime my door is open!
Phone: 388-6401
Course Web page:

Course Summary

This course will introduce you to the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), a part of computer science focusing on how end-users interact with hardware and software systems. HCI is a large, interdisciplinary field involving psychologists, linguists, artists, and designers to name a few. We will focus on the part of HCI dealing with the usability of interfaces -- the things that make them easy or difficult to use. Specifically, you will learn:

HCI is a very different part of computer science than you may be used to in your other CS classes. It does not focus on programming or on how to get a machine to do something new and exciting. And while those things are cool, it is just as important for those new, exciting apps to be made in a way that people can actually use them. In many ways, this course focuses on people -- how they think, how they react, and how that informs the development of the cool hardware and software we make. You'll get the most out of this class by diving right in to this non-traditional approach to CS: reading the papers, debating with your classmates, designing with your teammates, really listening to your end users, and taking time to reflect on what you've built. It's part rigorous science, and part creative art. Get involved.


C- or higher in CSC 150 (Data Structures) or the equivalent

Texts (2 required)



Academic Dishonesty

We have an honorcode now and I trust y'all to follow it. Read up on it at All suspected violations will be reported to the Honor Council chair and Dean of Studies. You must include an abridged honor code affirmation in the comments or prose of everything you hand in.

What you need to do

To prepare for class, you are required to do the following:


Union College facilitates the implementation of reasonable accommodations, including resources and services, for students with disabilities, chronic medical conditions and temporary disabilities resulting in difficulties accessing learning opportunities. All students needing services must first register with Accommodative Services located in Reamer 303. It is strongly recommended that accommodations be requested within the first two weeks of the term. Last minute requests can be denied. Any student with a documented learning disorder is welcome to come talk to me privately about options for completion of exams and homework assignments.

The Bottom Line

Ask questions and seek help. This is the most important point of all. I live to answer questions. Don't be afraid to come to my office every single day if you want. It's better for everybody (you AND me) if you understand things sooner rather than later. More often than not, there's a line of people waiting to see me on the day before a project is due. You'll get the help you need faster by starting on projects sooner rather than waiting until the last minute.