Sarah Reeder

A Penchant for Solving Wicked Problems

Program: Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction (design emphasis)

Hometown: Centerville, Ohio

Career Plans: Industry or academic research

Advice for Incoming Graduate Students: Get ready for the ride of your life. If you don’t consider yourself fearless going into this program, chances are you will when you make it out!

Human-robot interaction. Emotional durability. Design theory. These are a few of Sarah Reeder’s favorite things.

She’s also discovered a taste for “wicked” problems. She explains: “Over the course of the Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCI/d) program, students complete a number of challenging design projects, both on their own and in teams. In the process of practicing and learning about interaction design, students experience a wide range of messy, or ‘wicked,’ problems that have no right or wrong answer. I found this a great source of frustration at first, but over time I have learned to embrace it. It makes every project unique and different.”

After completing a bachelor’s degree in systems analysis, Sarah worked as a computer programmer. “Through my work developing custom Web-based applications, I learned my favorite part of my job was not so much the problem-solving that happens when coding, but the problem-setting that happens when interacting with clients. After coming to that realization I decided I was ready to pursue a master’s degree, and the HCI/d program at IU felt like the best fit,” she says.

Now she is considering her options in the field of interaction design, planning first to pursue a Ph.D. and then work in a research lab for a technology company before making her way back to academia to become a professor. She says the School of Informatics and Computing’s community—and its opportunities for women especially—have made a difference in shaping her future.

“I feel it is important, especially for women in IT, to have these opportunities to make connections with community members who are not peers. Through Women in Informatics and Computing (WIC) events, I have met Ph.D. students and faculty who have inspired my goals for the future.”