Weather research in the Cube


Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a multi-disciplinary field, drawing from the human sciences, computational sciences and engineering, information technologies, arts, and design. HCI addresses all aspects of the interplay between people and interactive technologies, with applications in every domain. The Center for HCI at Virginia Tech is a university-wide research center and a world leader in both the design of novel interactive experiences and the study of human interaction with and through technology. Our community of scholars includes over 75 faculty members from more than 25 departments and other units at the university.

CHCI supports research excellence through funding programs and shared resources; it contributes to the education and training of HCI professionals and scholars through participation in various degree and certificate programs; and it fosters strong community around the topic of HCI through forums for idea exchange.


Human-Computer Interaction emerged as a field of study in the early 1980’s (the first ACM CHI “Joint Conference on Easier and More Productive Use of Computer Systems” was held in 1981). By that time, Virginia Tech was already doing research on human factors and user interfaces. Faculty members like Rex Hartson, Ed Fox, Roger Ehrich, Debby Hix, and Bob Williges became leaders in the new field of HCI.

In the 1990s, the faculty of the Department of Computer Science decided to make HCI a targeted area of emphasis. Infrastructure grants allowed the department to create a set of laboratories for usability evaluation and HCI research. In 1995, Jack Carroll was hired as department head of CS and founding director of the university-level Center for Human-Computer Interaction. With the additions of Mary Beth Rosson and Andrea Kavanaugh, CHCI quickly became one of top HCI groups in the nation and the world.

Over the thirty-year history of CHCI, the scope and scale of HCI research activities at Virginia Tech has continually expanded. Within the CS department, there have been multiple additional faculty hires and expanded laboratory infrastructure. At the same time, Virginia Tech has built significant HCI capacity in related disciplines such as industrial and systems engineering, psychology, visual arts and design, and communication, allowing CHCI to grow well beyond its roots in CS. CHCI has spearheaded a number of large-scale interdisciplinary efforts bringing together faculty from these core disciplines with collaborators in a variety of domains, including education, architecture, and engineering. In addition, scores of graduate students trained in CHCI have gone on to make important contributions of their own at other universities, research labs, and companies.