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Mengxi Chi, InfoSci MPS

Mengxi Chi, MPS Student

Affiliation: MPS student in Information Science

Research Focus: Human-Computer Interaction Design and Web Development

Hometown: Beijing, China

Why did you choose Cornell?

I applied for seven graduate schools and most of them admitted me. I chose Cornell not only because as an Ivy League research university, it has great reputation and a strong team of faculty, but also I enjoy the freedom of adding courses in Cornell, which most graduate schools don’t allow. In our Master degree, we need to finish the required 15 credits within approved courses. Meanwhile we can choose courses from any other schools like Johnson School of Management, School of Computer Science, School of Hotel Administration and so on, as long as the courses match our career goal. This is a great feature of Cornell that inspires us to be the person we want to be and pursue our future development goals.

Why are doing an MPS and why InfoSci?

My working experience improved my understanding of the relationship among humans, products, and technology, but there were still unanswered questions to me. How can I evaluate my design system? How can the registration process guide the users to complete valuable product’s behaviors? Most companies have suggested that we refer to the practices of other websites. That seems logical, however, this also hampers the uniqueness and creativity of internet products. With my graduate study, I intend to master the methods of organizing information and establishing complicated information systems, to build a more efficient communication bridge between humans and information, and to explore HCI.

Where and what did you do for your Undergrad?

I did my Undergrad in Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Beijing, China. I was major in Digital Media Technology. Actually my love of designing was honed in my Undergrad. In my junior year, I worked with one of my peers and designed the Magic Poker Flip, a mobile phone application which attracted the attention of magicians from around the world. This proved to be an exciting experience. Apart from this, my continuous e-mail correspondence with the users and their feedback helped us improve the product further, resulting in increased downloads. This experience inspired to continue to create fun and convenient products, by combining my appreciation for the arts and my technological expertise.

What did you do after Undergrad (if applicable), where did you work?

To increase my experience in Human-Computer Interaction design, I had been working for the biggest Internet company in China—Baidu.com for one and a half year, where I participated in the design of Baidu SNS, an online community where people can find friends.

If you’ve selected a research project to work on, can you describe your experience so far?

So far I am doing a research project with Steve Voida and Mark Matthews, two post docs in Information science and Matthew Green, a fellow MPS student. Our goal is to design and develop an Emotional Analytics Monitoring System for Bipolar Disorder patients. Based on Social Rhythm Metric (SRM) algorithm, the system monitors patients’ daily life and the way they interact with technology and to suggest tasks for them to recover from depression and manic.

What class have you taken or are taking that you are excited about and why?

I really enjoy INFO 4400 Advanced HCI. Professor Gilly Leshed gives vivid lectures about how to design good interactive technology. We also have labs every week to help practice the skills that we learned in lectures. All the homework and projects are fun too.

I also like INFO 4320 Introduction to Rapid Prototype and Physical computing. We learn the technology of Arduino and create physical fun products like robot hands. The course is exciting because most of the students don’t have a background in electronic engineering but we can all create fun staff with Arduino.

What other activities are you involved in around campus or around Ithaca?

Ithaca is a gorgeous place surrounded by beautiful natural landscape. It’s fun to do outdoor events. I go kayaking and I visit the Plantations. The Johnson Museum is also a good place to visit. I enjoyed the scenery looking out from the top floor. And don’t forget to have picnic at Cayuga Lake in the summer!

What do you like about living in Ithaca?

To be honest, I like the security in Ithaca most. Compared with other cities in Unite States, it’s pretty safe. I have never been worried about my safety even I went to grocery store at midnight. (I am not encouraging you guys to go.)

People are nice and friendly. There are not a lot of places to have fun here so people are all gathering together. It’s easy to make lots of friends here.

Public transportation is convenient. We have cool beautiful summer and white fun winter. It’s a perfect place to do research and to learn.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to find a software engineering job in an Internet company and get my adorable dog Shannon with me. I miss him very much.

What do you think incoming MPS students should know before they come?

Maybe you are still feeling confused about your future career goal. Don’t worry. As soon as you come here and take related classes, you would know what you really want to do. On the other hand, you should figure out if you are a city animal or you can be adaptable to a small town like this in advance. The environment is stressful sometimes.

What would you recommend about this program to potential MPS students?

To me, two features make a great program. The first one is the courses that it provides to students. In the MPS program, you almost can learn everything that you want: database, software engineering, machine learning, human computer interaction, marketing and entrepreneurship. All the homework and exams are well designed by the professors. They enable us to master the skills that we want.

The second feature is the resources that provided by the program. We have our career advisor Mary Ellen Buhl. She gives us all the information that is useful in job hunting. There are several career fairs in a year. Most big companies would come to hire Cornell students.