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One of the most valuable parts of a student’s academic and professional success is found outside of the classroom, especially when students become involved with student organizations. Student organizations allow members to explore their specific interests and experience a glimpse of what their next steps after college may look like. 

The ACU chapter of the Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction (SIGCHI), is a student club and research group whose goal is to study how people interact with the computers they use. Due to the variety of topics in this field, the group has a lot of room to work on interesting and unique projects that match their passion for technology. SIGCHI is open to all majors and loves having members with different skill-sets who can contribute with different perspectives. Current members include Zach Albrecht, chapter chair; John Marsden, vice-chair; Jessica Halbert, secretary; Kyle Lemons, treasurer; and Matthew Thompson, member chair and IRB specialist.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, hosts an annual student research competition where thousands of students join to improve the way people interact with technology. The ACM Chi Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems is the leading conference of human-computer interaction in the world and this year’s conference was scheduled to take place in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ACU SIGCHI chapter was asked to join this premier international event to share the research paper they developed in the past year called Facts and Stories in Phishing and Training: A Replication and Extension. In an effort to understand which types of phishing training were most helpful for university staff, the research team replicated some successful experiments and extended it by creating their own phishing training for ACU students. Jessica Halbert, secretary of the SIGCHI chapter said, “A lot of students received some emails made to look like phishing attempts late last year. These were created by us and were entirely safe, but what they did was allow us to see if the phishing training they linked to was effective or not for students. Among other things, our results found that students tend to learn better from their peers than from experts.” 

ACU’s SIGCHI chapter was invited to the CHI conference for the first time in 2018.

Jessica is a computer science major from Allen, TX and has been a member of SIGCHI since the beginning of her junior year when she heard about human-computer interaction. Her involvement with the organization began with the research paper the chapter prepared for the 2019 CHI Conference, where she enjoyed researching and learning about the subject and pursued an officer position the following year. Her participation in this year’s research consisted in creating the training pages that were connected to the phishing emails, as well as the compilation of the research paper. Not only does she enjoy the weekly meetings in this organization, but has used this as an opportunity for professional development. Halbert commented on this opportunity, “It looked great on my resume and I got to talk about it at several interviews. Aside from that, I got more experience with conducting research that I may be able to use in the future.” Learning about the research process and being a member of this research team allowed Jessica to develop skills that will be very valuable in her field as she graduates this May. 

Even though the 2020 CHI Conference had to be canceled, this research group continues to work towards their goal as they plan their next research project for the conference in Japan. Professor James Prather, sponsor of the ACU chapter, invites all students who are interested in going to this conference to join SIGCHI and their weekly meetings next semester. Jessica also extends this invitation by saying, “It’s just so much fun working on projects with this group. We also are super open to new members, even if you aren’t sure where you will be able to contribute! We will help you find a way to get involved.”