People of ACM European Chapters - Christian Sturm

Novmeber 23, 2023

How did you initially become interested in Human Factors of Usability Engineering?

My initial interest in Human Factors of Usability Engineering emerged from a cross-cultural experience designing software in an international context. While developing an online project management system for a Mexican company in Mexico, I realized that my mindset didn't align with the users' needs, leading to a complete application redesign. This experience highlighted the significance of cultural differences in technology design and drove home the point that the human factor is key to a system's success. Eager to explore this field further, I immediately immersed myself in the subject by attending my first ACM SIGCHI conference in 2001, which cemented my passion for usability engineering and its human-centric approach.

In your area of research, what recent advance/emerging subfield will yield important advances in the years ahead?

In my area of research, several aspects will contribute to important advances in the coming years. One emerging subfield focuses on understanding the complexity of users by taking into account a broader range of user characteristics. Additionally, the inclusion and empowerment of global, regional, and local HCI communities will foster diverse perspectives and innovative solutions. Researchers are also becoming more conscious of questioning their own assumptions about user needs, leading to more tailored and effective study designs. Ultimately, the combination of human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence will probably dominate the research agenda.

Will you tell us about us about some of the regular activities or upcoming plans for the ACM German SIGCHI Chapter?

The ACM German SIGCHI Chapter faces a unique situation, as people in the field of human-computer interaction are organized across different organizations in Germany. As a result, one of our activities involves fostering discussions on how to collaborate and integrate diverse viewpoints and settings. This dialogue ensures that we can develop a more unified approach to addressing challenges in the field. Additionally, we are discussing various ways to collaborate with other SIGCHI chapters worldwide. These international partnerships will not only help expand our horizons but also facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge, ultimately enriching the global HCI community and driving progress in the field.

What advice would you offer a younger colleague just starting out in the computing field?

For those starting out in the field of HCI, it's essential to explore various areas and identify your interests. This process allows you to find where your passion and strengths lie, enabling you to contribute effectively to the field. Cultivate a mindset of questioning assumptions about users, methods, and the world, as this will drive innovation and personal growth. Continually stay abreast of new developments and techniques, as the field is always evolving. Seek mentorship and engage in peer collaboration, as these exchanges of knowledge and experience benefit both individuals and the community. Be open to learning from others and offering your own insights. Lastly, enjoy the journey, embracing the challenges and learning opportunities that come your way. A combination of curiosity, passion, and collaboration will help you build a fulfilling and successful career in HCI while making valuable contributions to the field.

Christian Sturm is a Professor for Human Factors of Usability Engineering at the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt. His research interests include cross-cultural and educational perspectives on human-computer interaction in combination with entrepreneurial thinking.

Sturm is Vice Chair of the German ACM SIGCHI Chapter.