Laura Lille lists her specialty as ‘student in human engineering’ – it is a field so innovative, that almost no jobs yet exist for the role.
And yet her skills sit in a place that is vital for the success of virtually any engineering project, from architecture to road construction, phone apps to virtual reality.
In France, where she studies, her role is known as na ‘ingénieur en cognitique’, whose closest English translation is ‘UX designer’ – short for ‘user experience’.
“My work is not to replace the jobs of architects, computer coders or designers,” she said.
“It’s just to be the glue between the users of a system and the different teams of conception.’’
Currently studying a masters at the National School of Cognitive Science Engineering in Bordeaux, Lille says the jobs for her skills are only now being created.
“It’s important for me to have the technical basics, so I know what’s possible,” she said.
“But it’s really important to have an impact at the beginning of the process to ensure that the needs of the user are evaluate.
“Once the application is made, and then tested, it can be difficult to begin again if problems are found at that stage.”
She is currently on a three-month placement at the SMART Infrastructure Facility, working with Associate Research Fellow Shiva Pedram on designing virtual reality systems designed for learning.
Ms Lille’s job is to organise theories and design principles to implement improved ways to learn virtual reality.
Pedram has been working on creating virtual reality systems for the coal industry, but is interested in expanded the medium to any field of learning.
“The ultimate aim is to create a scenario to reduce the time for human learning,” Ms Pedram said.
“We are filling the gap between a traditional classroom and going on site, taking people into the field.
“Virtual reality is creating a bridge between these two scenarios – we can create a safe environment, but one where people can learn through experience.”