Human Machine Interface Expert Interview with Susanne Schild

What do our colleagues working in the Human Machine Interface unit do, and what are the requirements for working in the unit? These are just some of the questions we discussed with Susanne Schild, who studied for her doctoral degree at Daimler after completing her degree in Psychology and now develops interaction concepts for future vehicle generations.

Hello Ms. Schild. Please introduce yourself briefly to the readers.

My name is Susanne Schild. I have been working at Daimler for more than five years. Before starting at Daimler I studied Psychology in Würzburg, specializing in the psychology of driving and specifically the design of the human machine interface in the vehicle. The unit is usually abbreviated to "HMI"- for Human Machine Interface. The question is therefore how to design the controls and displays in the vehicle to make using them as simple and convenient as possible for the driver. I work in Sindelfingen, where I develop interaction concepts for future vehicle generations.

Why did you choose Daimler as your employer? What do you find particularly appealing about working at Daimler as a psychology graduate?

During my studies I developed a strong interest in HMI design, and after completing both an internship and my thesis in the automotive sector, it was clear that this was the field I would like to remain in. At Daimler, I had the opportunity to work as a doctoral student in the exciting field of new alternatives for in-vehicle control. This was particularly appealing to me because I was able to work on a ground-breaking topic and great products.

Please describe your career at Daimler – from the first day in the company until today.

I started out at Daimler as a doctoral student in the HMI Advance Development unit in October 2010. In the almost three years I spent as a doctoral student, in addition to working on my thesis I was also involved in interaction concepts for future vehicle generations as well as the F125! research vehicle. After completing my doctoral studies in August 2013 I joined the HMI Advance Development unit as a permanent employee. I have worked in HMI Series Development since August 2014, which means that I develop interaction concepts for vehicles that will be introduced on the market in the near future.

Please tell us a bit more about your team and your work.

Within Mercedes-Benz Passenger Car Development, our department is responsible for the HMI, which means that we design the entire user experience from the input method and menu structure to the integration of functions. Our team combines a wide range of disciplines and works closely with colleagues in graphic design and software development. We also need to coordinate with many colleagues in other units in order to make sure that our ideas are feasible from a technical perspective.

The special thing about our job is that the customer comes into direct contact with the fruits of our labor inside the vehicle. Therefore, our most important goal is to create the best possible user experience for the customer. It is also exciting to work with different units at Daimler and to come into contact with so many innovations. Last but not least, it is very nice to experience your own work in the finished product.

What kind of people are you looking for most in your team?

Since our team combines a wide range of different disciplines, there are a number of specialist backgrounds that are very well-suited such as media IT, information design, user interface design etc. But, essentially, we are looking for co-workers who have experience in the development of HMI concepts (ideally in the automotive sector) and are passionate about it. As we work very closely with many different units, prospective applicants should also be outgoing and communicative. The work we do also requires a good sense of how to convey the user's perspective to our colleagues in order to make sure that it is always in focus.

What tips do you have for students and graduates who would like to work in the HMI unit at Daimler?

I would recommend continuous study of current HMI concepts and technologies in your own environment and observing the trends emerging in other industries (for example for smart phones). This will help you keep up-to-date and develop a better sense for different HMI concepts.

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