IEEE Holds User Experience Hackathon at Its First International Project Management Day Event

Attendees learned how to increase engagement with their products and services

13 January 2017

The IEEE IT Services department held its first International Project Management Day on 3 November at its Piscataway, N.J., office to recognize the achievements of project managers on staff across IEEE. The theme was Innovation and Embracing Change.

IPM Day is celebrated worldwide on the first Thursday of November to honor the skills and contributions of project managers from all industries.

IEEE Executive Director Jim Prendergast and Chief Information Officer Cherif Amirat spoke about the contributions of project managers and the importance of innovation. More than 100 attendees then participated in a series of activities and discussions, including a panel conversation on embracing change. The panel was moderated by staff from IEEE IT Services.

A good portion of the day was focused on user experience (UX) strategies to help program managers improve how members respond to and interact with websites, digital products, events, and other services.


UX is a constant cycle of iteration and change to increase user satisfaction with products and services. One of the IPM Day activities was a unique UX hackathon competition. 

The participants received a lesson to hone their UX awareness and skills, which focused on promoting user engagement and interaction with products and services. After the lesson, the group was divided into five teams to help redesign an IEEE website in a hackathon-style competition. The teams had just 60 minutes to develop UX recommendations and then five minutes to present to the audience and to a panel of judges from IEEE’s Digital and Creative Innovations staff.

The teams assessed the current homepage’s performance, site traffic, content, graphics, and information architecture. Participants viewed the page from various IEEE personas, such as an IEEE Young Professionals member and a technical committee chair. The teams also conducted usasbility testing to assess users’ response to the proposed designs.

The audience and judges alike were impressed by the recommendations, and it was a close competition. The judges provided feedback on the work of each of the teams. The winning team—Thomas Babicz, Jean Fitzgibbon, Chanda Hunter, Kevin Uherek, Candace Waller, and Christina Zarrello—received a free lunch in the IEEE cafeteria presented by event organizer, Sunil Dubey. The team’s design focused on personalization to help visitors navigate the site for their own specific needs as well as responsive design so that the site could be viewed easily on different devices. IEEE will consider all the recommendations to inform redesign efforts.

Leslie-Ann O’Brien is the director of IT services at IEEE, in Piscataway, N.J.

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