Second-year master’s student Edgar Nuñez brings a wide-ranging professional background to bear on his study of user experience with the goal of user empowerment.
Edgar graduated from the University of California-Santa Cruz with a degree in mathematics and entered the information field with a clear goal: to improve workflows and access to information for individuals and small organizations.
Prior to arriving at UMSI, Edgar streamlined the digital workflow at an optometry firm, and worked as an Operations and Knowledge Manager at an Oakland, CA high school. There, he was responsible for the implementation of Google Apps for Education and related training to achieve measurable positive impacts on information flow in day-to-day operations.
However, it was through a position at Global Glimpse, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing international service opportunities to high school students, where Edgar honed his conception of people-centric human-computer interaction (HCI). Through leadership and coaching in various aspects of needs assessment, cross-cultural interaction, service design, and project management, Edgar identified the need for improved information practices in organizations; his goal is to make tools available to the passionate people who are building the future.
Edgar carried that momentum forward in his first year at UMSI. He was responsible for coordinating fundraising and event planning for the highly successful, second annual A2 DataDive, where local nonprofit organizations are paired with UMSI students to address organizational data needs. He was also selected as a fellow under the U-M Learning Analytics Fellowship program, where his team has developed a website solution to navigate the connections between course selection and careers in an interactive course exploration guide. The live implementation of the “UMSI Discover” website is scheduled for Winter 2014.
As Edgar puts it, his inspiration for pursuing a degree in HCI is to “learn and build technological solutions with the goal of effecting social change and understanding our impact as designers.” He continues, “it’s been great to see how the theoretical tenets present in the information field influence the use and appropriation of designed tools. Systems should be easy to navigate, allow users to make connections on their own, and always provide control to the user.”
With his flair for global leadership and designing for access, Edgar joined the UMSI Global Information Engagement Program (GIEP) to partner in the development of a virtual training institute for Digital Green in India. Along with his team of designers, they are setting out for New Delhi this summer to provide interaction design and information architecture to a learning platform that will be used by 10,000 rural farmers in India and other countries.
“Designing for the non-traditional tech user will help us cast the widest net possible for inclusive digital design. I’m excited to learn from and work with these farming communities to bring the best practices of online education to a global audience.”