Student experience

I realize that technology is always made for someone, an end user. That interaction between people and technology is exactly the focus of HMI.Sanne van Waveren, student Human Media Interaction

I have chosen to study Human Media Interaction (HMI), because it handles the design and implementation of new, rapidly evolving technologies, and focuses on how to best integrate them into society. You are constantly working on something new. I am hooked on programming, mathematics, soft- and hardware, but with a background in the social sciences, I realize that technology is always made for someone, an end user. That interaction between people and technology is exactly the focus of HMI.

Currently, for my graduation project, I am working on virtual agents; software entities that look and act like people. We try to unravel highly complex human behavior and translate that into agent behavior, to design realistic and humanlike virtual agents. These agents can take on a wide variety of roles in numerous situations. For instance, doctors can practice their interview skills with a virtual patient or people can practice their negotiation skills with a virtual negotiator.

During the second year of my master, I have done an internship at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies on virtual agents. In three months, I did 3D-modeling, integrated an existing virtual environment into the HTC VIVE, and carried out experiments with participants. Overall, this was a challenging, but amazing experience that will stay with me forever.

Furthermore, I have done courses such as Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI), Advanced Machine Learning, and Speech and Language Processing. In those courses, you carry out interesting projects in which you can achieve many great things. For instance, we have created a game in which players can control a character with their brain in the BCI course. We measured, analyzed and classified brain signals and translated them into game controls. This was a lot of fun. The HMI program offers a spectrum of courses to choose from, that equip you with a skill set that you can use for the rest of your life.

Within the courses you collaborate closely with fellow students and teachers, which creates a very personal and comfortable atmosphere. You can always discuss ideas with them and learn from each other. You get to work together with people with a wide variety of backgrounds, allowing you to learn from each other.

Besides studying, there is enough to do at the University of Twente. Every day you can participate in a lot of fun group lessons and courses every day at the sports center. Also, many students are involved in culture or student associations. I have become a member of the computer science study association InterActief, which organizes several cool activities throughout the year, such as interesting lunch lectures and symposia.

Besides my master program, I am enrolled in the MSc Research Honors program of the University of Twente; a program that provides students with the knowledge and skills required when pursuing a scientific career (e.g., a PhD). However, it does not matter whether you are more research-oriented or more into business; HMI offers a tailored program that helps you prepare for your future. Studying HMI has taught me that possibilities are limitless, and that your ideas and work can make a significant difference in the world!

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