Gowtham Rathinam Nedunchezhian
Date of the interview
You’ve earned a degree in Usability Engineering from Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. What motivated you to study there?
During my bachelor’s studies in Communication Engineering I was fascinated with many tech products and wanted to know more about how they improve human well-being. My quest for a better understanding of the ‘how and why?’ started by observing behaviour and interaction of people in many social and private contexts, from the usage of objects like portable music players to that of door handles. This led me to ask myself whether there was a field of engineering that deals with human emotion and technology, because what I really wanted was to pursue a field of engineering, that would allow me to think creatively and bring about ‘wild ideas’ for the world, as well as one that was connected to all aspects of technology. I found that Germany was the right place for straightforward, less expensive education which also matched my passion. It was also a great fortune to have a genius uncle who once discussed about ‘usability testing’. The first time I heard the term Usability was from him. It really motivated me a lot to go ahead and search courses with regard to this term, and to my surprise I found the course at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, the only university that explicitly offered a programme with the title Usability Engineering.
Have you encountered any difficulties when applying for a job in Germany?
Well, yes! Things just don’t happen overnight. If you have a dream to get a job and work in Germany as a student you have to work hard every single day and take things step by step to fulfil that dream. I can still remember the long days I spent in the library searching for new books on Usability and User Experience (UX). In addition to that, I invested a lot of time in studying many different topics during weekends. In this competitive and noisy world you always have to be one step ahead to succeed. It’s all about curiosity and consistency when you’re engaged in acquiring knowledge and that is what will in the end distinguish you from others. I applied for a lot of positions and, yes, was turned down a lot. Don’t be surprised if you are rejected, there are a diverse number of reasons for companies to reject you but there is no reason for you to quit trying!
What motivated you to work at VSF Experts GmbH?
VSF Experts GmbH has over 17 years of experience in the fields of automotive industry and enterprise systems. The company’s core expertise is in product development and support as well as IT services, User-Centred Design, User Experience, Usability and Agile Software Development processes. During my internship, I found that this company was really open to new ideas and encourages passionate individuals. This mind-set motivated me to complete my master’s thesis at VSF on a new idea named ‘UX BURNER’. UX BURNER is a ‘disruptive product design and development’ process that helps teams to build Human-Centred Innovations in Scrum (an Agile Software Development method). VSF’s key objective to mature to a creative and innovative enterprise was one of the most important reasons for me to pursue a full time employment with them.
Please describe your typical workday.
My typical workday is usually based on MITs (Most Important Tasks). Some of them include daily stand-up meetings, design research, ideation, which is a creative process of developing new ideas, prototyping and user interface (UI) evaluation. I take care to manage my tasks effectively as it creates more productivity in my job. Upon completing each task I take short breaks to keep me focused throughout the day. Lunch breaks usually include a solitary walk along the river Rhine which is just a few steps away from my company. It helps me to be more calm and creative. Sometimes great solutions to some of the tough design challenges that I face in projects occur to me during those walks.
Which qualifications and competences do you consider essential to performing well in your job?
Being a usability engineer at a young and growing company is a lot of fun and an interesting role. I have realised that the modules I completed during my master’s degree studies were not enough. The books that I read in addition to my modules created a huge advantage for performing well in my job. I would recommend Usability Engineering students to put quite a lot of effort in modules like Strategic Usability Engineering, Human Factors in System Design and Usability Consulting. These modules are a very important basis to showcasing one’s skills with regard to the strategic and consulting decisions of a company.
Do you plan on staying in Germany permanently?
Germany is a great place to live. I love the people, food and the language. I am planning to stay here for a longer duration.
Please finish the following sentence: For me, Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences is…
… a place where great minds come together from many different countries to make a lasting positive contribution to Germany and diverse industrial sectors.