History of HCI at Carleton

Carleton was one of the first universities to embrace HCI. The CURE (Computer User Research & Evaluation) Lab was founded by Professors Dick Dillon, Jo Wood, and Warren Thorngate in 1978; HCI has been taught in the Department of Psychology since then and has produced well over 100 MA and Ph.D. graduates. The three founders were frustrated with computer systems that would not do what they wanted them to do. So while writing their own programs to support their research in human memory, animal studies, and social psychology, they began to teach HCI. Their courses soon became very popular with the local IT industry, notable the Bell-Northern Research Labs, which at its peak employed around 250 Industrial Designers, Human Factors, and HCI specialists. The close connection with our local IT industry culminated in the creation of an NSERC Industry Research Chair in 2000, and then in the re-naming of the CURE lab to the Human-Oriented Technology Lab (HOTLab). However, HCI is, by its very nature, multidisciplinary, and so, we realized that it needed a home that did not exclusively focus on psychology. All of our colleagues participating in the new HCI Master’s degree are doing some research in HCI. It, therefore, made sense to establish a degree that recognizes the multidisciplinary character of HCI and enables us to collaborate more formally in some of the many fascinating research projects that already span many Schools, Departments, and Faculties at Carleton.