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Jim Hennessey was born in 1945 in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT-ID) and studied under Jay Doblin. In 1969 he graduated with his BSc, and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Sweden. Afterward, he entered the graduate program at the California Institute of the Arts (Valencia) where he received his MA and enbarked on his teaching career. During this time he met and worked with Victor Papanek and co-authored three books him: Nomadic Furniture, Nomadic Furniture 2 and How Things Don't Work.
In 1975 he joined the Environmental Design faculty at the Rochester Insitute of Technology (New York). Later, he was offered the position of Chair, Industrial Design Department, School of Art, University of Washington (Seattle). Here, his focus changed to computing and he begain writing programs and user-interfaces for design-related software. Many of his students moved on to Microsoft to become Interaction Designers.
In 1986 he was offered the opportunity to do a short-term research project at the Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) and was, later, invited to join the faculty as a full professor in 1990. As director of the IDEATE research program, he and his colleagues authored many articles on "Tools for the Conceptualizing Phase of Design". He retired in 2001 and lives on Orcas Island in Washington State.
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Stuyver, Ralph, Hennessey, Jim (1995): A Support Tool for the Conceptual Phase of Design. In: Kirby, M. A. R., Dix, Alan J., Finlay, Janet E. (eds.) Proceedings of the Tenth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group - People and Computers X August, 1995, Huddersfield, UK. pp. 235-245.