It’s not necessarily unique to wonder about human interaction and why people do the things they do, but for Danielle Ishak, her curiosity went a bit further than a day dream. Working in the area of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Danielle studies humans interacting with synthetic humans. Yep, she works with robots. Find out how Danielle discovered the industry, fell in love with it, and what advice she would give women looking into careers in STEM.
Occupation: Work at SAP as a Human-Factors Professional investigating software interfaces and Human-Robot Interaction
Last Thing You Read: Quantifying the User Experience by Jeff Sauro and James R Lewis
How did you get started?
My story follows that generic narrative of students in college getting inspired by their professors. In undergrad, I studied interactive media and one of my professors introduced us to the concept of the user experience when interacting with tangible things such as robots. I always knew that I was interested in humans and why they act or respond in certain ways, but I didn’t know how to apply this to a real occupation that was not pure psychology. I did some research and then came across the discipline of Human Factors and Ergonomics and realized that my interest was a field that was actually fairly high in demand in the economy. My interest grew tremendously when I realized I could investigate humans interacting with synthetic humans (aka humanoid robots). That concept simply blew my mind so I applied for a master’s program shortly after my discovery. This process took me two whole years after college, so in the meantime, I gained some experience through working various marketing jobs. I think it was great to work in other environments to figure out not necessarily what I wanted to do, but more about what I didn’t want to do.