Why/What/How to start an ACM SIGCHI Professional/Student Chapter?

A guide on starting ACM SIGCHI Local chapters in the field of Human-Computer Interaction.

Pranjal Jain
9 min readJun 16, 2019

Why start the chapter?

Think of the chapter as a ‘COMMUNITY’.

  • Community is a small gathering of people who come to discuss around a topic or a theme.

5 benefits of a community

1.Knowledge, 2.Connections, 3.Inspiration
4.Resources, 5.Support

By immersing yourself in a community, you give yourself a chance to learn from the overall group, mining the wisdom of several people and helping each other out along the way.

The community contains a diversity of opinion, ideas, and knowledge that one would never encounter alone.

Local SIGCHI Chapters can serve as a community which promote HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) education, research and practice in the region.

These chapters can act as a bridge between academics, practitioners and students in the field of HCI.

In India, HCI might be considered as User Experience(UX) but the HCI field is just not UX.

The definition and understanding of HCI field are left to the local chapters to explore.

Therefore, let's sit down and brainstorm what does HCI mean in India?

What to do to start the chapter?

  • Enthusiasm and Passion — to run a chapter/community.
  • Need enthusiastic and passionate people to start the chapter who are equally or more passionate than you.

Chapters are run by people who are interested in volunteering.

Enthusiasm and Passion — To promote HCI

For practical reasons, a chapter needs a minimum of 10 members who have ACM/SIGCHI membership to start.

  • Find 4 people who are interested and ready to take charge as the chapter officers.
  • Find another 6 members who broadly work in the field of HCI.
  • But it is also not necessary that every 10 members need to be working in the HCI field. Bring diversity in your chapter.

What would be the responsibilities of Chapter officers?

  • The required officers for the chapters are Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary. (Both ACM and SIGCHI memberships are required for these officers.)
  • The Chapter Chair (Chairperson) has the overall responsibility for developing chapter programs, for ensuring that plans and assignments are carried out, and for seeing that the chapter fulfils its obligations to the Association.
  • The chapter Vice Chairperson is an integral component of the chapter’s operation. Responsible for overseeing the activities and progress of the various committee and chapter programs.
  • The Chapter Treasurer is responsible for the fiscal operation
    and reporting of the chapter, and of all committees and programs established by the chapter.
  • The Chapter Secretary is responsible for the communication channel among the members and
  • (Optional Position) The Chapter Membership Chairperson is responsible for recruiting and maintaining chapter membership records.
  • (Optional Position) The Chapter Webmaster is responsible for maintaining the website of the chapter.

How to start the chapter?

To start a new ACM Chapter, go to — http://campus.acm.org/public/chapters/AutoChap/

Then follow these 4 easy steps

  1. Enter chapter name, chapter email address, chapter type (Professional or Student), and chapter subtype (SIG: SIGCHI).
  2. Enter the names of three individuals to serve as Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer (for a Student chapter name also a Faculty Sponsor). These individuals must have ACM Professional Membership and SIGCHI Membership (https://www.acm.org/membership/membership-options ). (Note the Special Member rates for individuals in economically developing countries: https://www.acm.org/membership/special-member-rates-developing-countries)
  3. Enter chapter contact information (postal address and phone number).
  4. Enter the names of at least ten (10) individuals willing to carry out the chapter’s mission and participate in activities

Once the completed application is submitted, the approval process will take at least 2 weeks. You will be notified via email on the approval of your chapter.

How do you find enthusiastic and passionate people?

  • Reach out to the people in your college or office who loves new ideas and share them the idea of starting an HCI community.
  • Explain to them what HCI means?
  • Why there is a need to start this community?
  • Tell them the benefits of a community which are mentioned above.
  • Share the potential chapter activity ideas with them. (few are written at the end of this article)
  • Your creativity matters in convincing them.

How to convince people to take ACM + SIGCHI membership?

  • There are many reasons to join ACM. When you become a member, you become a part of the dynamic changes that are transforming our world, by helping to shape the future of computing. ACM provides the tools and resources to help get you there, by advancing your career and enriching your knowledge with life-long learning resources.
  • The benefits of SIGCHI membership include — Discounts on sponsored conferences, access to SIGCHI-sponsored content in the ACM Digital Library (DL), free subscription to interactions magazine (6 issues/year), membership networking.
  • Whether you plan to lead the revolution in human-computer interaction (HCI) or simply observe as it unfolds, your membership in ACM’s Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction (SIGCHI) assures you a front-row seat.

(Check out ‘Membership Options’ section below, to get your membership)

Useful Links

For any query, contact

  • Pranjal Jain (me) — pranjal_jain@live.com (ex-Chair of Srishti Institute ACM SIGCHI Student Chapter, 2018–2019)

Membership Options

What would be the cost of membership? / How much it is going to cost me to become a member of ACM + SIGCHI?

In an effort to fulfil ACM’s mission of disseminating computing and information technology ideas, techniques and discoveries, as widely as possible, ACM has special rates for individuals in economically developing countries.

Here is the list of different types of available memberships:

ACM Professional Membership

(choose any one of the following)

  1. ACM Basic Online Membership Package1000 INR plus 180 INR India Service Tax /year.

Total = Rs 1,180/-

  • Includes: ACM Professional Membership includes an online subscription to Communications of the ACM, access to online courses, ebooks and training videos, subscriptions to MemberNet, TechNews and CareerNews, access to the ACM Career and Job Center, and all the benefits of ACM Membership.

2. ACM Print Membership Package1000 INR/year plus 180 INR India Service Tax; in addition $20 USD/year must be paid by credit card /year.

Total = Rs 2,573/- (approx)

  • Includes: ACM Professional Membership includes a print and online subscription to Communications of the ACM, access to online courses, ebooks and training videos, subscriptions to MemberNet, TechNews and CareerNews, access to the ACM Career and Job Center, and all the benefits of ACM Membership.

3. ACM Digital Library Package & Print CACM — 1000 INR plus 180 INR India Service Tax; in addition $80 USD/year must be paid by credit card/year.

Total = Rs 6,752/-

  • Includes: ACM Professional Membership PLUS the ACM Digital Library includes a print and online subscription to Communications of the ACM, access to online courses, ebooks and training videos, subscriptions to MemberNet, TechNews and CareerNews, the ACM Career and Job Center, PLUS unlimited access to the ACM Digital Library, and all the benefits of ACM Membership.

Click here to get ACM professional membership and see the video.

This video will help you to navigate on the website to get ACM Professional Membership.

SIGCHI Professional Membership

  • SIG Member Yearly Rate $22.00

Total = Rs 1,532/-

  • SIGCHI members receive registration discounts to SIGCHI-sponsored and co-sponsored conferences, a subscription to “Interactions” magazine, and the monthly electronic ACM SIGCHI TechNews. SIGCHI membership also grants access to all SIGCHI publications in the ACM Portal.

Click here to get SIGCHI professional membership and see the video.

This video will help you to navigate on the website to get SIGCHI Professional Membership.

ACM Student Membership

(Only one option)

  1. ACM Student Membership — Yearly Rate: 900 INR plus 162 INR India Service Tax

Total = Rs 1,062/-

Click here to get student membership. (write ‘India’, when this link gets open)

SIGCHI Student Membership

  • SIG Member Yearly Rate $6.00

Total = Rs 418/-

Click here to get SIGCHI professional membership. (follow the SIGCHI Professional video and instead of the ‘professional’, select student)

After the chapter is formed, then what?

Chapter Activity Ideas

  • Distinguished Speakers Program/Lectures: Invite one of ACM’s
    Distinguished Speakers to speak with your chapter on a topic of your choice. Plan the event with other local organizations and publicize it well to recruit a big audience or even new chapter members. http://www.dsp.acm.org/
  • Panel Discussions and Roundtables: Invite three or four people from the
    technology workforce or organize the event with members from your chapter. This will encourage discussions and exchange of ideas and opinions.
  • Joint Meetings: Joint meetings are a great way to interact with local
    professionals. They are also an opportunity for Professional Chapters to meet with local Student Chapters to teach and advise.
  • Mixers/Social Events: Host an event, dinner, or dessert party where the main purpose is to meet and greet. Encourage others to interact and exchange thoughts and ideas. For a change of pace, these events can be hosted at bowling alleys, bars, restaurants or at a park on a nice day.
  • Sports Teams: Enlist your chapter in a local sporting league. This will promote unity and bonding amongst chapter members, as well as encourage friendly competition!
  • Holiday Parties: Celebrate the holidays together with food, drinks, games
    and prizes! A great chance to get to know all the members and officers better.
  • How-to Presentations: Have an expert in a specific field demonstrate and
    teach. How-to’s can range from anything including “How to fix a resume” to “How to use Photoshop,” and more. The sky is the limit!
  • BYO_: Bring your own (blank). This is a great opportunity to showcase the hidden talent and come together to network.
  • Conferences: Sponsor or co-sponsor a conference with a local non-profit organization. A conference is an excellent platform for researchers in all current areas of information technology to present their latest research findings, as well as an open forum for networking and exchanging of ideas.
  • App Workshops: There are hundreds of thousands of apps available in the app market and the numbers are ever increasing. What makes an app good, and how can we quantify that? Host a talk that explores these questions, and use example apps to illustrate relevant features.
  • Seminars: Seminars bring together small groups for recurring meetings,
    focusing each time on some particular subject, in which everyone present
    is requested to actively participate. This is often accomplished through
    an ongoing dialogue with a seminar leader or instructor, or through a
    more formal presentation of research. They are essentially a place where
    assigned readings are discussed, questions can be raised and debates can be conducted. They are relatively informal.

Many more interesting activities can be conducted.

Most important — try to focus on the needs of your local area to build your chapter.

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Pranjal Jain

Design Researcher; Initiator of HCI4SouthAsia; Ex-chair of Srishti SIGCHI Chapter; Startup Community Enabler