College of IST launches new bachelor's degree for aspiring software developers

Jordan Ford
July 08, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new bachelor of science degree offered by Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) will help to prepare the next generation of mobile and web application developers. The human-centered design and development (HCDD) degree will be available to students at the University Park campus beginning in the fall 2019 semester. 

The program will focus on the fundamentals of designing interactive technologies that put the needs and priorities of people first. Students will identify opportunities where technology can make a difference to human lives, and then design, build and evaluate the impact of those technologies in their intended context of use. 

"Graduates from the human-centered design and development program will create new, interactive user interfaces that are informed by studying users, rather than just the assumption of the programmer,” said Steve Haynes, HCDD program coordinator and teaching professor of IST. “They’ll be uniquely positioned to tackle user interface design in mobile and web-based contexts, and they will work to identify important software design challenges in businesses, organizations and for individual users.” 

The interdisciplinary curriculum will combine foundational coursework in mathematics, statistics, information technology and application development with specialized courses in the social and psychological aspects of technology use, usability engineering, user research methods and user interface design.  

Students will gain expertise in three key areas: designing and building useful technologies to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world, identifying opportunities to enhance user experiences through technology, and using quantitative and qualitative methods to identify how technology can better support human activity.

Students also will take a series of courses in an application focus area to explore these concepts within a particular domain, such as health care, data sciences or psychology.  

“Interdisciplinary education is at the heart of the College of IST, and it is critical to the foundation of the HCDD program,” said Andrew Sears, dean of the College of IST. “Since application development platforms change rapidly, this program emphasizes the creation of lifelong and adaptable learners who can apply foundational design concepts to the technological tools of tomorrow in any area they choose.” 

According to Haynes, graduates from the program will be positioned for emerging careers across industry, government and education, helping to ensure that the world of increasingly complex and ubiquitous technologies aligns with human aspirations, requirements and limitations. 

“Technological solutions to human problems must be useable and useful in their unique contexts to be effective,” added Haynes. “Students in the new HCDD program will be at the forefront of developing solutions that enhance the way we live, work and play.”  

The new degree was driven by industry demand along with feedback from alumni and current students. It is the latest evolution of the existing design and development option within the information sciences and technology bachelor of science program

Thdesign and development option will be phased out at University Park once all current students pursuing it have graduated. This option will not be available to incoming students after the fall 2019 semester, but it will remain available at several Commonwealth Campuses.

Current students who are interested in switching to the new HCDD program should contact their academic adviser. Current freshmen and sophomores in the existing design and development option are strongly encouraged to make this change.

Visit the College of IST website to learn more about the human-centered design and development degree program.


Last Updated July 08, 2019