Category Archives: Experience

User Experience Designer and User Researcher

International Business Machines, 2011-present.

I began working for IBM’s Systems and Technology group in 2011, first as a graduate student co-op, and then after completing my degree as a user researcher and user experience designer. I help develop web and mobile software that IT professionals use to manage their hardware and software infrastructure.

My dual role helps me to contribute to my team’s products more than I could have otherwise, and increases my team’s flexibility to respond to opportunities.

User Research

Since joining IBM, I have lead or assisted with research studies supporting IBM Pureflex Flex System Manager, IBM PowerVC, and other systems software offerings. We choose the type of studies we do based on the questions we are trying to answer. I have worked on surveys, focus groups and client panels, hands on observational studies, interview studies, user experience blitz test, card sorts, and ethnographic research.

User Experience Design

Like my user research experience, my design work has supported IBM Purflex Flex System Manager and IBM PowerVC, among others products. I am involved with the full software development cycle. I create concepts, wireframes, and high fidelity interactive prototypes using design software (i.e. Adobe Creative Suite), rapid prototyping tools (i.e. Axure RP), paper and pencil, or occasionally straight to code. The prototypes are used to communicate new experiences with developers, test new concepts, and to validate software designs with users.

Teaching Assistant

Iowa State University, 2005-2012

While I was a graduate student at Iowa State, my primary support came in the form of a teaching assistant position in the Department of English. Iowa State uses a multimodal approach to teaching college composition, rhetoric, and professional communication. The courses I taught included writing, but also visual and oral communication and digital media.

My cv summarizes each of the courses I taught as the instructor of record, but I am most proud of the few I describe here.

Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Communication, Digital Media Emphasis

The WOVE communication course is one of the foundation courses at Iowa State. Virtually all students take it during their first two years. As a composition course, it teaches the writing and communication skills that students will need to succeed in their programs of study. The course uses a multimodal approach. Students write, but also compose spoken and visual communication and digital media. I often taught special sections with an increased emphasis on technology skills. These sections served communication majors (English, journalism, mass composition), and high ability students..

Technical Communication

Over seven years, I happily taught this course more than any other. The curriculum takes the traditional genres of technical communication like reports, instructions, and specifications and addresses them from a user-centered perspective. Students use research, audience analysis, and usability testing along with multimodal composition skills to develop expertise in the kind of communication they will do as professionals in science and engineering.

Technology, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication Seminar 

The technology seminar is designed to help advanced undergraduates to critically explore the implications technology for rhetoric and professional communication. The format is modeled after graduate seminars; students read contemporary essays and books on modern communication technology, discuss them with peers, and write a collection of short and long critical responses. I was privileged to teach this course twice as a teaching assistant.


Research Assistant

Iowa State University, 2008-2012.

While working as a graduate assistant at Iowa State, I would occasionally have my teaching load paid with grant money so I could be assigned to a research project, giving me practical research experience on a handful of communication and technology projects.

Talking Sustainability, 2008-2009

The Talking Sustainability project used ethnographic interview methods to study attitudes on sustainability among professionals in the bioeconomy. As a graduate student, my role was to collect literature, schedule and conduct interviews, and contribute to qualitative data analysis. We talked to a broad sample of bioeconomy actors, including farmers, commodity brokers, crop insurers, ethanol plant managers, and many others in order to learn how the community understood the concept of sustainability.

Problem Framing Behavior in Statics and Thermodynamics, 2011

I briefly served as a research assistant for the Problem Framers. The projected used smart pens and in personal observations of engineering and science students’ problem solving approach. The primary activity while I worked with the team was to determine and test the methodology that would later examine ways to use technology to supplement problem solving education.

Learning Activity Description Language, 2010-2011
The LADL project was a computer assisted language learning project. Its goal was to create a description language that would help language teachers to create custom interactive learning activities by mashing up resources available on the web. I served as the software and user interface designer and programmer.

Previous Experience

My experience includes consulting, co-ops, and internships that I worked while I was a university student. I held these positions full time during summer breaks and part time during academic terms.

Technical Writer, EFCO Corporation, 2007-2008

In this position, I documented legacy software vital to the organization’s business with manuscript documents and MS Visio diagrams. I interviewed subject matter experts and reviewed historical documents from three decades of work. I also worked with variable data printing and document design with Adobe InDesign.

Technology Consultant, National Collegiate Honors Council, 2005 (Administrative Assistant), 2007 (Consultant)

This position began with basic clerical work, but I  ultimately spend more effort on conference scheduling and planning and variable data correspondence. I used spreadsheets formulae and mail merges to resolve scheduling conflicts, match presentations, produce directories, and inform participants of room and time assignments.

Engineering Summer Student, Carleton Life Support Systems, IA, 2004

Carleton designs and manufactures air processing equipment for aircraft and for the medical industry. My project was to design and build the test equipment to verify the operation of one of the products. I designed the hardware and designed and develop the sofware to run it, including function and user interface. The test equipment ran on National Instruments LabVIEW, a graphical programming suite designed for rapid production of customized scientific and engineering systems.

Programmer/User Interface Designer, MTEC Photoacoustics, 2002-2004

MTEC Photoacoustics builds scientific equipment based on mass spectrometry and photoacoustics. My role was to design and develop the software that controlled one of the pieces of  custom scientific instruments they were developing for research purposes. I designed and programmed the driver and interface using  National Instruments LabVIEW.

Summer Intern, HDR Engineering, Inc, 1999-2001

HDR is a major engineering and architectural consulting firm. I worked there over two summers doing mostly clerical work supporting railroad bridge engineering. I also did computer aided drafting, web design, and database work for the team.