Open Menu Close Menu

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math | News

Academy or Art U Students To Design UI for NASA

San Francisco's Academy of Art University (AAU) is partnering with NASA to design a user interface that astronauts will use in space to control a robot on the ground.

Thesis level industrial design students will "use a variety of design skills to complete the project, including storyboarding, task analysis, ideation, brainstorming, sketching and rendering," according to information released by the university. "The students' work will be used to create the user interface elements, including icons, wireframes, and glyphs."

The team, which is beginning conceptual work on apparel, interior architecture, and product design, will also look for opportunities for other design disciplines to contribute to the project.

As part of the project, the students will create storyboards, sketches, and paper prototypes highlighting graphical elements to show how the astronauts will be able to control the robots.

A group of NASA scientists will assist students during classes and the students will visit NASA Ames during the semester.

"Operating a robot is extremely complex and these designs we've tasked the students with developing require both an in-depth knowledge of engineering--and the advanced creative skills necessary to make these designs user friendly for the astronauts,” said Terry Fong, director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at Ames. “The final products from the students will play a big role in how we think about future astronaut-centered robotics, and we are grateful to the Academy of Art for collaborating with us to explore the design space in new ways."

The student designs will be used by NASA in summer 2013 when astronauts on the International Space Station remotely operate a mobile robot on Earth. As part of the experiment, the robot will lay out "a simulated radio telescope on an outdoor terrain at the NASA Ames Research Center," according to information released by AAU.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to contribute to our country's innovative space program," said Elisa Stephens, president of AAU. “We are constantly looking for hands-on learning opportunities for our students so that while they are in school, they get the real-world experience that will prepare them for a career in their industry of choice. We are grateful to NASA for working with us and are excited to see students contribute to our nation’s space program."

Founded in 1929, AAU currently has more than 18,000 students and more than 30 areas of academic emphasis.

More information about AAU is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

comments powered by Disqus