Visualize ✧ Reason ✧ Analyze ✧ Collaborate

Vision Statement

Elevate the synergy between humans and complex interdisciplinary systems to unprecedented levels of performance

Mission Statement

Develop, test, and evaluate visualization, interaction, and sensor technologies to elevate human capabilities in engineering, health, and physical sciences.

Research, Education, and Outreach Capabilities of the Center

The Center offers an end-to-end suite of research, education, and outreach capabilities from basic method creation (TRL 1) to the edge of commercialization (TRL 8-9).

Few centers in the world offer this breadth and depth of interdisciplinary activities across research, education, and outreach. This scope uniquely positions the center to forge ahead making advancements that will have long-term benefits for society, as well as providing short-term benefits to industry, academia, and government.


The goals of the center for the next 10+ years are broadly defined as follows:

  • Research – Maintain high quality across the research enterprise. Increase the number of active faculty in the Center, scholarly output, external grant activities, and the number of undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral research assistants. Balancing growth with quality will be critical.

  • Education (HCI program) – Program stability is the primary goal. Program growth in the number of students and number of courses offered is another goal along with continuing to integrate research results into the HCI education.

  • Outreach – Increase the center’s visibility through outreach activities to recruit more faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students. Increase ISU’s exposure to current and potential donors and other VIPs.

  • Community – Establish and maintain a welcoming and inclusive working environment within the center. Empower faculty, staff, and students from across the university to be productive and contribute to decision making about Center activities.

Strategic Research Areas

The Center will primarily focus on the research in the following areas.

  1. Extended Reality (XR) – Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual

    1. Use across disciplines

    2. Development of new graphics methods and platform capabilities

    3. Experimentation with new hardware and software

  2. Sensors (development and use)

    1. Biosensors / wearables

    2. Manufacturing (3D printing, etc.)

    3. In-situ / in-field/ autonomous/ application specific

  3. Big data

    1. Analytics

    2. Visualization

    3. Machine learning, expert systems, and high-fidelity approximations

Strategic Research Areas

The following application areas will become foci of the center in which to pursue large scale projects and funding. Efforts will be made to support core groups of faculty with seed projects, proposal development, and other resources available to foster work in these defined application domains. The strategic application domains are:

  1. Complex engineered systems

    1. Simulation, visualization, and decision support methods

    2. Human-machine systems

  2. Health and Public Safety

    1. Food safety/ quality

    2. Precision agriculture and water quality / safety

    3. Personalized health, fitness and body performance

  3. Training and Workforce Development

    1. From factory workers to engineers to doctors

    2. Human-agent teaming in industry, education, and the military

    3. Personalized adaptive automation in simulation-based trainers

    4. Just In Time (JIT) training – rapid training for workers to be immediately productive

Center Educational Goals – Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

The Center has had a successful graduate program (M.S. and Ph.D.) in HCI since 2003. However, not being affiliated with a department makes basic program elements such as hiring faculty and offering courses challenging from semester to semester. To ensure continued success and growth, the following goals are set forth:

  1. Course creation and maintenance

    1. Create opportunities to offer a larger variety of HCI courses

    2. Streamline process for faculty to teach HCI courses and receive compensation

  2. Ability to hire faculty in a variety of disciplines to meet the needs of the program

  3. Sustainable financial model to accurately reflect the tuition being generated so an appropriate amount can be turned back to the program for continued growth and success.

Center Outreach

Often undervalued, outreach activities are critical for the success of the center, college, and university. Whether to aid in hiring top tier faculty or display technological innovations to donors, outreach activities have tangible benefits to the university from financial, marketing, educational, and research points of view. This strong tradition will endure by:

  1. Continue center outreach for the university

  2. Improve engagement with the technical community in Iowa

  3. Foster new outreach programs

    1. Reach underserved populations across the state / region

  4. Establish relationships with ISU Extension and Outreach

Center Infrastructure

The Center has impressive infrastructure from its office and learning spaces to the C6, the world’s highest resolution immersive VR system. This infrastructure is one of the foundations for the center’s research, education, and outreach activities. However, since much of this infrastructure is leading edge, a large infusion of resources is needed to create and maintain these systems in a timely manner. For example, the C6 was last refreshed in 2008-09. While still an impressive system, the technology needs updating. A planning effort must be established to provide a sustainable way to: 1) acquire new infrastructure, both large and small and 2) provide resources to maintain and repair center infrastructure.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are critical components for continued success in all phases of the Center. Center personnel must strive to actively recruit women and students from underrepresented groups into research activities as well as the HCI program. Partnering with colleges across campus is an important aspect of achieving success as the research and educational areas of the center are often sought out by students.

In the next 10+ years, a goal for the Center is to support more projects (research, education, and outreach) that foster diversity and inclusion. The center will work with faculty, staff, and students to identify appropriate resources such as scholarships and other programs that promote diversity and inclusion.

Technology Transfer

The Center has a history of successful entrepreneurial and technology transfer activities (e.g., licensing of software, open-source contributions, and startup companies). These activities are an important way to provide research outcomes in usable forms for industry, academia, the government, and society. These activities are also a reflection of the initiative and collaborative atmosphere fostered in the Center. Reinvigorating partnerships with the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and the ISU Research Park, as well as seeking out opportunities for new collaborations with the Student Innovation Center, will be important elements in the Center’s success in the future.

Center Community

Faculty, staff, and students in the Center will have a voice in shaping its future. Faculty and students need encouragement and support to achieve success in research, education, and outreach. Staff need to be empowered to tackle problem areas with enough authority to make decisions. Updates to the basic working environment (i.e., carpet, desks, etc.) can motivate faculty, staff, and students who want to work in one of the “cool” places on campus. Faculty, staff, and students will also stay engaged if the center cultivates a sense of belonging and makes people feel valued as members of the community.