Giving Users What They Need
We make large scientific databases useful to different user audiences - by tailoring the tools and interfaces according to each group's needs
Today's software and data systems are so complex that normal users can become slaves to the computer. The Northwest Alliance for Computational Science & Engineering (NACSE, pronounced "knacks") specializes in engineering software so that real scientists and engineers can learn it quickly and apply it productively in their everyday work.
NACSE was established in 1995 as an interdisciplinary research coalition dedicated to improving the usability of advanced IT for practicing scientists and engineers. NACSE researchers study how complex software and databanks should be engineered so that they're "natural" for scientists and engineers to use.
All NACSE projects are interdisciplinary, collaborative, and team-based in nature. Current projects involve approximately 50 individuals (representing 15 departments across 6 colleges) at Oregon State University, as well as academic, government, and industry partners from all over the world.
The home base for NACSE is the new Kelley Engineering Center at Oregon State University. This houses staff offices, a unique Usability Testing Laboratory, and a Usability Flex Lab where we engage scientists and engineers as active participants in software design.
NACSE staff design and construct Web-based interfaces that make scientific data more accessible to everyone. Our projects include Web-to-database tools, database workshops, tools for finding and accessing research data, and web tools that help individuals customize the information they see to their own expertise and interest.