HCII Calendar

  • Ph.D. Thesis Proposal: Eliane Stampfer Wiese
    NSH 3305
    April 25, 2014 at 12:30pm
  • CMU Commencement

    May 18, 2014 at all day

HCII Facilities

Newell Simon Hall | User Studies Lab | Craig Street


The Human-Computer Interaction Institute in Newell Simon Hall shares the physical and computing environment of the School of Computer Science. The School is the largest academic organization at CMU devoted to the study of computers. Its seven degree-granting departments (Computer Science Department, HCII, Institute for Software Research, Lane Center for Computational Biology, Language Technologies Institute, Machine Learning Department, and Robotics Institute) have over 200 faculty, 300 graduate students, and a 200-person professional technical staff. SCS also collaborates with other centers at CMU, including the Software Engineering Institute, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), the Information Networking Institute, and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems.

The facilities available to students and researchers at the HCII include a heterogeneous distributed computing environment, experimental computers, a wide variety of networked machines, and the User Studies Lab.

Heterogeneous Distributed Computing The SCS environment provides numerous and diverse computers for faculty and graduate-student use—more than 3000 machines. All have transparent access to the Andrew File System, a multi-terabyte, shared file space, and to one another through the Network File System protocol. SCS maintains several terabytes of secondary storage. Beyond these resources, the University provides various independent facilities for general use. Computationally intensive applications can also use PSC computers, including Cray T3E, C90-16/512, and J90 supercomputers.

Experimental Systems SCS has a reputation for developing innovative computers, devices, networks, and systems that benefit diverse applications. Current large-scale, experimental efforts include the Darwin “application-aware” networking project and the NASD project on storage interfaces with direct device/client communication.

Networking Carnegie Mellon operates a fully-interconnected, multimedia, multiprotocol campus network. The system incorporates state-of-the-art commercial technology and spans over 100 segments in a “collapsed backbone” infrastructure that enables mutual access among all campus systems, including the PSC supercomputers. The University currently provides 2Mb/s wireless data communication campus-wide. Externally, SCS connects directly to the Internet, through OC-3 (155 Mbit/s) links, the NSF-sponsored vBNS (OC12) network, and the Internet-2 Abilene network. Carnegie Mellon is also actively engaged in the very high bandwidth research NGI initiatives. For general SCS operating questions, go to http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~admin/


Newell Simon Hall houses offices, meeting facilities, and project labs for faculty and staff in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, the Robotics Institute, and the Language Technology Institute. There are also an auditorium and a food court. A bridge connects NSH to the fourth floor of Wean Hall, the other main School of Computer Science building.


The User Studies Lab (USL) is a multi-room facility for research on human-computer interaction. The lab has been used for dozens of investigations into the usability of new technology and interaction techniques. Computer scientists have studied speech-recognition, command languages, and help systems; psychologists have studied computer-aided instruction and human-robot interaction; faculty in the English Department have studied documentation and collaborative writing; the business school has studied errors in telephone-based interactions and the efficacy of object-oriented programming; and engineers have studied the effects of access to large databases on engineering policy decisions.

The USL also is used for training researchers and students to perform “think-aloud,” observational, and other empirical usability studies. The USL has equipment for single-user laboratory and field recording of color video data. The USL is housed in Newell Simon Hall, where it has space to accommodate research into the usability of multi-media, multi-user, multi-location computer systems. One room allows for investigations of the performance of groups of people (e.g., a 12-person design team) as they use networked systems, shared workspaces, and other computer-mediated group-support tools.

Combinations of rooms allow researchers to study communications among between local and remote groups, using technologies including wireless networks, personal digital assistants, video communications, or wearable computers. Video, audio, and data-analysis equipment can be loaned to researchers to collect and analyze data outside the laboratory. Indra Szegedy (indras [at] cmu [dot] edu) manages the HCII laboratory space. To find out more about or scheduling experiments, contact Indra. In Indra’s absence, contact Laura Dabbish for information or help.

Lab A - one or two users

Lab B - satellite work space, analysis area

Lab C - group work or unusual environments (e.g. bicycle maintenance using wearable computers). This room has a folding partition to divide it in half to allow for separate experiments to run simultaneously.

To participate in experiments, click on http://www.cbdr.cmu.edu/experiments/


300 Craig Street is home to HCII Masters Students.