People of ACM European Chapters - Pawel Wozniak
November 30, 2021
How did you initially become interested in the field of human-computer interaction?
I always say that I am extremely lucky to have discovered what has become my great passion. And I’m even luckier to be able to do this for a living. I was an exchange student at Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and I took a mobile application development course. Honestly, I was just counting on learning some programming for mobile devices and I did not really consider an academic career as a viable option. The course did have programming, but it also came with a large stack of classic Ubicomp papers to read. Quickly, I started reading these and the works cited in those papers. I am happy to say that I’ve now even published with some of the authors of the papers in my "original" stack.
In your area of research, what recent advance/emerging subfield will yield important advances in the years ahead?
Our field likes to redefine itself all the time, and I particularly enjoy this aspect of the work. Still, I’m happy to take a guess. What excites me the most right now is how sensing technologies are becoming smaller and more ubiquitous. We see how physiological sensors (which used to be bulky and creepy) can now be worn like regular clothing. Within my research area, this is particularly evident in the proliferation of smart garments for sports people, in the form of smart shirts or undergarments. This adds to the already vast amount of data about us that we obtain from current sensing technologies (e.g., smartwatches). With more and more information about our bodies, it is still a challenge for HCI to discover how all that information can benefit our wellbeing.
Will you tell us about us about some upcoming plans for the ACM Poland SIGCHI Chapter?
Most of the chapter members were involved in setting up Poland’s first Master program in HCI at Łódź University of Technology. While the first year was conducted in an online format, we’re really excited for the students to return to campus so that we can try out all the engaging teaching that we've prepared for them. Raising awareness of our field in Poland has always been the chapter’s primary goal and we’re happy to do that through educating future professionals. We’ve been very lucky to have a group of active and dedicated students who get involved in research even during their Master’s studies. The ubicomp.pl student club, proudly supported by SIGCHI Poland, does a lot of good work in showing students how exciting HCI work can be. Our chapter organized the ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces Conference (ISS 2021), which was held in Łódź (and virtually) this year from November 14-17. We are doing our best to successfully run a hybrid conference and show the SIGCHI community as much as we can of our local HCI activities.
What advice would you offer a younger colleague just starting out in the computing field?
Prioritize people and look for your happy place. This sounds trivial, but not accounting for being human was a mistake I made during the early days of my career. The field is competitive, but it is also constantly growing. So, it is not a question of if there’s a happy professional place for a talented individual but where. You are likely to have many choices where many alternatives are appealing. My solution to those choices is always being around people who can be role models for you and looking for those willing to support your learning. I’ve been blessed to have amazing mentors, who taught me work and life. Choose your mentors and peers wisely for your career to grow in a sustainable way. Plus, don’t forget to openly admit that you’re wrong when you are indeed wrong.
Paweł W. Woźniak is an Associate Professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. His research focuses on human-computer interaction (HCI). He is particularly interested in HCI for sports, designing technology for wellbeing and examining how interactive technologies can support reproducible science.
Woźniak is the Chair of the ACM Poland SIGCHI Chapter.