Engineers are problem solvers. They seek out problems, analyze them, and work to create logical, lasting solutions. Alina Zare, Assistant Professor in MU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department, has spent the last few years solving the problem of how to get computers to learn from data – and, more ambitiously, how to get them to learn from uncertain or unclear data.
So-Yeon Yoon admits that while she has always liked computer games, even as a young child, she has also always enjoyed painting and drawing. Yoon describes her watercolor paintings and how for her the creative process is “very addictive”: “I like colors and creating something beautiful, and creating things on the computer actually gives the same kind of fulfillment.” She is attracted to three-dimensional (3-D) images and experimenting with different textures and colors. Thus it is perhaps no surprise that Yoon found herself drawn to the field of architecture and interior design—“a perfect match” in which her creative desires and her interest in computers could merge. Today, the assistant professor of Architectural Studies focuses her research and teaching on the areas of Human Environmental Psychology and Interior and Architectural Design. Her current research combines information technology with interior design and architecture, a composite field in which she applies technology, particularly virtual reality (VR), to interior design problems.
Yoon recently published Impact of Desktop Virtual Reality on System Usability: A Case Study of Online Consumer Survey Using a VR Integrated Decision Support System (2004). The book offers basic knowledge about VR technology and focuses on the dimension of human-computer interaction. For example, she addresses the utility of VR software, how users actually interact with the tools, and what kinds of advantages can be expected when adopting this technology.
Most of Yoon’s projects are collaborative in nature. She works with specialists from computer programming, data-base design, and hotel and restaurant management. “Collaboration is essential in this field,” she observes. Her colleagues are in fact scattered across the nation: “It doesn’t really matter these days because we can use live chat or GoToMeeting. This kind of technology allows us to actually work together quite seamlessly without meeting face-to-face.”