2020 Summer Internships

Update: 2/3 positions have been filled. But we have one more opening for summer 2020! For this last position, we’re really looking for someone technical.

Summary: The Information Interaction Lab is offering up to 3 summer internship positions to students who would like to contribute to our ongoing XR design projects, some of which will be targeted for publication at the CHI 2021 conference. We also respond to a call from UMSI-CDO and highly encourage UMSI students who are experiencing distress and uncertainty about their planned summer internships due to COVID-19. We are committed to providing the following:

  • Opportunities for applied research methodology and skill-building; and/or work that can support the research team in some way (students will assist with the development of research prototypes in the lab; Professor Nebeling will provide a framework for the internship and guide students through each milestone)
  • Supervision that includes mentorship by someone that is knowledgable of the intern’s work and can provide adequate guidance, support, and learning (Professor Nebeling works with all students directly, with weekly project and mentoring meetings)
  • Access to external constituents, partners, and/or users (unfortunately, this will be limited given the COVID-19 pandemic but we will be conducting research that is aligned with previous research gifts from Mozilla and Disney Studios)
  • Learning that will benefit the intern in developing their skillset and professional experience, as well as support for meeting their learning objectives (we will have weekly virtual lab meetings to talk about project goals, ideas, and milestones)
  • Fair compensation:  The average on-campus internship pay rate for master’s students is $15-$20/hr (we will commit to a pay rate of $20/hr and will have work of 15-20 hours per week, on average, but actual workload may vary and the expectations will be commensurate with each individual student’s personal & work situation)

More details about the projects below:

Working  with UMSI professor Michael Nebeling in the Information Interaction Lab, the projects we are currently working on, at the highest level, are investigating how virtual and augmented reality interfaces can be created more easily and faster, and how XR (where X is a placeholder for VR and AR) can become more effective modes of interaction and complement existing interfaces. Our current focus as part of our involvement with the U-M wide XR Initiative is on use cases that support (remote) immersive learning and instruction through the use of XR technologies. Depending on the student’s experience and interests, they could help with the development of new tools to support this investigation, the design and evaluation of new kinds of AR/VR interfaces with a particular focus on novel interaction techniques, or both.

Some of the new research questions Professor Nebeling is asking include: How do we abstract from the complexities of tools like Unity and Unreal, yet allow designers over a short period of time in some of our tools to transition to these more advanced tools? How can we prototype complex, interactive AR/VR experiences without writing code, mostly using programming-by-demonstration? How can we enable artists to fully express their designs on paper, or in immersive authoring tools using either AR, or VR, or some combination of both? How can we appropriate complex physical objects and use them to define complex interactive behaviors in AR or VR while occluding and potentially deforming them in the process? What would a WordPress for AR/VR look like in terms of enabling concepts and the most useful getting started templates? How can we adapt a tool like PowerPoint, which works in 2D, to create “immersive slideshows” for AR/VR, without the need to design in 3D?

Desired experience & skills

The focus of the project will be determined based on student interest and experience, and can range from more technical development to more user research oriented angles. Experience shows that students with a technical background such as Computer Science do very well when working with Professor Nebeling and other lab members. Ideally, you have…

  • successfully completed Professor Nebeling’s AR/VR courses, SI 559 and SI 659
  • previous programming experience–either  acquired through coursework or, ideally, through projects–with web technologies such as HTML5/CSS3, JavaScript/jQuery, and Node.js
  • familiarity with THREE.js/A-Frame and JavaScript, Unity and C#, and/or Unreal and C++ with Blueprint
  • experience with and access to* AR/VR platforms and devices (ARKit/ARCore, Oculus Rift/Quest, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, etc.)

* We will consider ways of allocating and distributing AR/VR equipment so that students can work on projects remotely.