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Portland Design Research Group

The Art Institute of Portland - Open Space
1122 NW Davis St
Portland, OR 97209, US (map)

Informal networking will take place from 6:30 – 7:00, with Rob’s talk to begin promptly at 7:00, followed by a short Q&A.


Rob Wilcox, Emerging Technology Design & Product Consultant, will give a talk entitled "Journey to the Heart of the Grid: User Experience Research on Wind and Solar Integration into the Electric Power System."

The North American electric grid is one of the most complex systems that has ever been designed. It is highly reliable, but it takes about the same time for a section of the grid to crash as does an airplane. The cause is almost always the same - human error and deficient situational awareness.

Rob and his team had the opportunity to engage in user experience research for a new grid system for a wholesale utility company in the U.S. The areas they identified for critical focus were the customer experience and the user experience of the grid control staff who would use the system.

Contextual inquiry uncovered some long- and immediate-term concerns, some of which they were able to address from a design standpoint, and others that will require significant future work for the electric utility sector to solve.

Rob will give a brief introduction to the problem space and research findings. He will also discuss research personas, mental models, and learnings from the research process including organizational culture and barriers, regulatory and technical challenges, and working with stakeholders.

About Portland Design Research Group

The Portland Design Research Group is a multidisciplinary networking group focused on the role of research in the design of products, services and systems in business, government and non-profits. We welcome perspectives from all disciplines, including human-computer interaction, design, market research, the social sciences, and others. Meetings will be held every other month at The Art Institute of Portland, and will include speakers, panel discussions, workshops, and other events, with opportunities to network and discuss relevant topics with fellow research professionals.