An Undergraduate Researcher’s First-ever Conference
An Undergraduate Researcher’s First-ever Conference
  • Reporter Kim Seo-jin
  • 승인 2022.01.07 00:42
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Ever since I entered POSTECH, I have embraced life to make every season of my college years cherishable. Even taking this thought into account, last autumn was particularly special for me in many ways—I chose my major, became part of IME, and finally got in contact with my friends who finished their college entrance exams. Yet, out of all of these memorable events, the rarest and most remarkable experience was indeed being given the opportunity to participate in and present my research at the Autumn Conference of the Ergonomics Society of Korea (ESK). Since July, I have been working on a project as a member of the Emotions AI research team led by Professor Jiyoung Kwak of IME. After weeks of research participation, Prof. Kwak suggested that my research colleagues and I participate in the Autumn Conference of ESK held at the Jeju International Convention Center from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 2021.
Until that point, my research partner, Baek Jong-eun (CSE 20), and I had been researching the pain points of online meeting platforms such as Zoom and developing solutions to those problems. We began our research with the awareness of Zoom’s ineffective UI/UX (user interface/ user experience). Although Zoom is widely used for online classes around the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform is not optimized for classes, but meetings, and has several ineffective UI/UX elements. Thus, the main goal of our research was to design an online class platform Zoom application in terms of human sensibility ergonomics, ultimately improving non-face-to-face communication between instructors and learners.
In preparation for the conference, we created the prototype for our Zoom application using Adobe XD. This step may sound simple but was actually quite laborious since we strictly followed the ergonomic UI design process. After weeks of endless feedback and modifications, I finally completed the prototype that satisfied our high standards. This was not the end. We then advertised for students to participate in the formative evaluation of our Zoom application prototype. By analyzing the emotions data collected via IMOTIONS and surveys during user tests, we were able to conclude our project with a positive outlook. Finally, after another few weeks of sleep debt and headaches, Mr. Baek and I completed our PowerPoint slides, poster, and were well on our way for the oral presentation. Nervous as we were, we practiced, again and again, aiming for perfection. Gratefully, we finished the first oral presentation of our lives without making mistakes and were lucky enough to be awarded at the Ergonomics Capstone Design Competition.
Of course, being rewarded after months of tough research was a fulfilling experience by  itself, but there was so much more to learn at the conference. The most important lesson I learned was that research fields are much more diverse than one can imagine. Before attending the conference, my narrow range of academic views dimly confined the field of ergonomics to physical ergonomics, UI/UX design, and human-computer interface design. Yet, as I newly learned, the world of academia provides more to explore. At the keynote lecture, I listened to a session titled Rethinking Brain-Computer Interfacing Technology by Professor Chang Soo Nam of North Carolina State University. The content of the lecture was something I would reckon as biology or computer science and was unlike the industrial engineering I was majoring in at POSTECH. After learning that even brain interfacing was part of ergonomics, my attitude towards academia became more humble and I became determined to explore my field of research more diligently.
Special thanks to Prof. Kwak for supporting this special experience of mine!

Reporter  Kim Seo-jin
Reporter Kim Seo-jin