My name is Nicholas Davis, and I am a HumanCentered Computing PhD candidate from Georgia Tech. The ACM Intelligent User Interface 2016 conference was an important learning experience for me. I am very grateful to have received a travel grant from SIGAI to help make the trip possible. Being a student volunteer allowed me to spend a significant amount of time with the other students that were volunteering and learn about their research and experiences at a much more indepth level than just attending the conference. Meeting and talking with the lead organizers, Dan Afergan and Kiley Sobel, was particularly helpful in gaining insight into the process of organizing a conference and coordinating student volunteers. Talking with them and observing how they handled various situations made me feel confident that I could help to organize student volunteers and participate in the overall organizing for future ACM conferences. The event was also an important networking opportunity for me as I am preparing for graduation this year. For example, Dan works at Google and was kind enough to introduce me to his manager, Jeffrey Nichols. They explained the kind of research they are engaged in at Google and we had a discussion about whether I might be interested in joining their team. Additionally, I met Andrew Gordon, who works at the Institute for Creative Technologies and we discussed some potential synergies and collaboration opportunities with our work. The most impactful talk I listened to was by Andrew’s student, Melissa Roemmele. She presented work on using neural networks to classify actions. Interestingly, the work I am involved with at Georgia Tech is accomplishing a very similar task. Our research group has already accessed the publicly available data set they presented at IUI, and we are beginning to apply our algorithms to evaluate the results, which is really exciting. This data set will help propel our research forward, and talking with Andrew and Melissa in person helped me understand the merits and limitations of their approach. In summary, travelling to IUI was extremely productive as well as enjoyable.
Other experiences from students funded by SIGAI travel grants.