Category: Graduate

New Faculty Lecture: Briana Bettin, CS and CLS

Dr. Briana Bettin will present a New Faculty Lecture on Friday, November 12, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. in Rekhi 214. Dr. Bettin is an assistant professor in both the Computer Science and the Cognitive and Learning Sciences departments. Her research interests span education, experiential design, and human factors. Her talk is titled, “Facets and Inclusions: Analogy as a Transformative Tool for Navigating CS Curricula.”

Briana Bettin

Abstract: Our increasingly digital society requires citizens to effectively communicate about and with computing technologies in order to thrive. Learning to navigate the digital landscape and computing topics can be immensely challenging. Shifting to “think like a programmer” is often challenging, and why the machine behaves as it does can appear antithetical to “the real world” assumptions students are used to in their daily lives. Coupled with stereotypical notions on the difficulty and societal impacts of computing and programming, students can easily become frustrated and discouraged from learning necessary skills and topics for the fourth industrial revolution.

This talk explores how using analogical representations to convey computing concepts and ideas can transform student relationships with computing material. Tying the “difficult novelty” of computing topics to lived experiences can help machine behaviors become relatable rather than flummoxing. Creative and cultural expressions using analogical representations create further avenues for CS curricular transformation, allowing students to foster their sense of self and community in relation to their computing studies. The lived experiences of students have many angles, and learning computing topics is a path paved with flaws. By transforming curricular dialogues to center students and their existing understanding, we can use these facets and inclusions to transform their experiences learning computer science.

Biography: Briana Bettin’s research blends user experience methodologies with education research to better understand programming students and the impacts of the classroom environment. She is a member of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystem’s (ICC) Computing Education research group.


The Human Factor, Design with the Human in Mind

The 2021 Michigan Tech Magazine is Live! And highlights the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences’ new BS program – Human Factors.

How can people use technology to improve work, society, and life? Students in Michigan Tech’s human factors program set out to answer that question by studying human abilities and limitations, and how they apply to design. In one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the nation, students explore how humans use, interact with, and think and feel about technology, and investigate the roles both humans and machines will play in solving the problems of tomorrow.

“Many of today’s college students will eventually work in jobs and industries that don’t yet exist,” says Kelly Steelman, department chair and associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences. “We intentionally designed the human factors curriculum to encourage students to develop both depth and breadth of skills. Human factors students will take courses from across campus and engage in multidisciplinary, project-based work to pick up the diverse skill sets needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world.”

To read the full story see section: 1400 Townsend Drive, and to learn more about our Human Factors program visit https://www.mtu.edu/cls/undergraduate/human-factors/


ACSHF Forum: Monday, October 11

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host speaker Stefka Hristova  (Associate Professor Humanities) at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum. The presentation, “Emptied Faces: In Search For An Algorithmic Punctum”, will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (Oct. 11) in Meese 109 and via Zoom.

Abstract: In his seminal work Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes wrote that in photographic portraits “[t]he air of a face is unanalyzable.” This argument connects to the larger theory of the photographic punctum, a laceration of time that signals the existence of a subject and forecasts its death. The punctum of the traditional portrait quickly became complicated as portraiture fueled composite portraiture linked to human typologies as exemplified by the work of Galton, Bertillon, and Lombrosso. This practice of combining and reconfiguring faces has found new currency in contemporary algorithmic culture where human faces are recorded, dissected, and recombined into seamless deep fake faces by what Deleuze and Guattari call “faciality machines.” This talk traces the articulation of faces in predictive algorithms through an investigation of the UTKFace data set. Further, it analyzes the rise of deep fake portraits through an engagement with Philip Wang’s This Person Does Not Exist and Mitra Azar’s DoppelGANger projects. This harnessing of portraits and therefore of human faces as raw material has been challenged in a counter project titled This Person Exists, which exposes the real people behind Wang’s project. This work brings back notions of personhood and humanity by revealing the original photographs as well as their authors and subjects and points to the ways in which algorithms feed on and erase humanity. I situate two additional sites of resistance to the decomposition of the human face: namely Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of “unknown tracts” and Barthes’ notion of the photographic punctum.


Erin Matas Named Association of Research Libraries Leadership Fellow

Library Director Erin Matas is one of 20 information professionals selected from the U.S. and Canada to join the 2021-22 ARL Leadership Fellows cohort. The ARL Leadership Fellowship develops and prepares the next generation of senior library and archival leaders. Past Leadership Fellows have emerged as successful leaders in a wide array of roles and settings, including as deans and directors of leading research libraries and archives.

“I am thrilled to join this cohort because of the impact that the program’s goals will have on my approach to library leadership,” says Matas. “ARL’s priority is to advance scholarship through systemic changes at the intersections of public policy, institutional policy and the ever-changing landscape of how we research, teach and learn. This program is an exceptional opportunity for library leaders to join these conversations and bring important guidance to their home institutions.”

In their press release, ARL shared that the 2021-22 cohort brings together an immensely diverse and highly accomplished group of library leaders, representing the broadest range of research institutions and communities since the program began in 2004

Provost Jackie Huntoon noted that Michigan Tech is proud to have a representative in the 2021-22 cohort of ARL Leadership Fellows. “Matas’ outstanding contributions on campus and beyond have clearly contributed to her selection. By participating as a Fellow, Erin will be able to continue to grow as a library professional and contribute her knowledge of best practices to the Michigan Tech community.”

Matas is the director of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library and is pursuing an advanced degree in applied cognitive science and human factors at Michigan Tech.


ACSHF Forum: Monday, September 13

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences will host speaker Cindy Miller (staff engineer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company) at the next Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors forum. The presentation, “Human Factors in Aviation, Healthcare and Motorcycles,” will be from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday (Sept. 13) via Zoom. Dr. Miller will present a summary of human factors engineering projects in aviation, healthcare, and motorcycles. She will discuss some of the tools, methodology, and design processes used for these projects, as well as provide a short review of her career path.

ACSHF Forum flyer


Congratulations to our graduates!

The CLS faculty and staff are so proud of our latest group of Michigan Tech graduates! We hope that you all find time to enjoy yourselves and celebrate everything that you have accomplished. Please, keep in touch about your future endeavors!

Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors MS degrees were awarded to Anne Linja, Brooke Poyhonen, Kathryn Maki, and Sam Herbert

Psychology BS degrees were awarded to Erin Casey, Kayla Conn, Ellie Hirvi, Bailee Kimbel, Tim Raymond, Elizabeth Sundblad, Eddie Swagger, Ashley VanHandel, and Emily Wisz

Pictured below:

Faculty: Shane Mueller, Elizabeth Veinott, Kelly Steelman, Kevin Trewartha, Samantha Smith, Susie Amato-Henderson

ACSHF MS Graduates: Brooke Poyhonen, Kathryn Maki, Sam Herbert

Psychology Graduates: Eddie Swager, Bailee Kimbel, Kayla Conn


2021 Summer Youth Programs are Open!

Open to students in grades 9 through 11, Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs now include an Engineering Psychology and Human Factors Course. Students can experience how psychology and engineering combine to design products, equipment, and systems that improve everyday life. The course will be held from July 11 to July 17.

For more information, click the link here.


Dr. Steelman Guest Blogs about Psychology at Michigan Tech

Dr. Kelly Steelman was invited to be a guest blogger for a website dedicated to promoting the advantages of attending smaller colleges. More specifically, she wrote about why Michigan Tech should be considered if a prospective student is interested in pursuing a psychology degree.

Dr. Steelman highlighted the opportunities and advantages of our CLS department, such as the low student to faculty ratio, the locally based internship program, and the enriching research experiences. Students are given the competitive edge of a large school but with the small school touch. Also, she emphasized Michigan Tech’s unique offering to study psychology and explore its connection to engineering or computer science.

Here is the link if you would like to read the blog post in its entirety.