Academy of Art University Students Complete Design for NASA

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Industrial Design Students Produced a Robot User Interface for NASA to Enable Future Astronauts in Space to Remotely Operate Robots on the Moon; Three Students to Continue Working as Interns with NASA This Summer

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"This collaboration has been a tremendous success as we’ve begun to explore the design space in new ways thanks to the creative thinking of Academy of Art University students." -- Terry Fong, director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames.

This semester, Academy of Art University Industrial Design students collaborated with NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., to design a user interface to enable future astronauts to remotely operate a robot on the moon. The project was so successful that three of the students will continue working on the project this summer as interns, where they will work closely with NASA engineers. The students’ semester work will be on display at the Academy of Art’s annual Spring Show on May 23 from 10am-5pm at the Cannery Building in San Francisco.

“At the beginning of the semester, we challenged the students to propose new user interface concepts and we are extremely pleased with what they produced,” said Terry Fong, director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames. “The students showed a lot of creativity and we plan to continue working with them this summer to refine what they’ve started. This collaboration has been a tremendous success as we’ve begun to explore the design space in new ways thanks to the creative thinking of Academy of Art University students."

Mark Bolick, the Academy of Art University’s Director of Graduate Industrial Design, said, “We are very pleased with the outcome of the students’ work – and the fact that some of the students have been chosen to continue working with NASA this summer. It isn’t every day that students have an opportunity to contribute to our country’s space program, but these students were able to and they made the most of the opportunity.”

MFA student Lorris Williams, who worked on the NASA project, said “To be able to work with a real-world partner like NASA and to design something that an astronaut might use in space is very exciting.”

During this past semester, students regularly interacted with NASA engineers, both at NASA Ames and at the Academy of Art University. Students used a variety of design skills to complete the project, including storyboarding, task analysis, ideation, brainstorming, sketching and rendering. The students’ work could be used on future space missions that involve astronauts controlling a robot that operates on other planets or the moon.

Future human missions to the moon, Mars, and other destinations offer many new opportunities for exploration. With the limited amount of work that astronauts can do from space, robots can complement human explorers by performing work on the ground under remote control from spacecraft in orbit. Robots can perform tasks that are tedious, highly repetitive or long-duration and beyond human capability.

In Summer 2013, NASA will perform an experiment in which astronauts on the space station remotely operate the "K10" mobile robot on Earth. The astronauts will use K10 to layout a simulated radio telescope on an outdoor terrain at Ames. This work will require capturing images with the robot's cameras and making measurements with other robot-mounted instruments. The student designs will help NASA plan and carry out this engineering test.

About the Academy of Art University
Academy of Art University, the largest private university of art and design in the United States, is educating students for the art and design jobs of the 21st Century. Established in 1929, the Academy is an output-based higher education model that provides open admissions to all students, but imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field in order to graduate. Students are taught by a faculty of professionals from the existing marketplace, which provides them with an understanding of what it takes to succeed in today’s business environment. The Academy’s hands-on curriculum produces graduates that possess great artistic and design skills -- and equally as important, the ability to put those talents to work immediately after graduation. As a result, Academy graduates are ready to compete for and win the jobs of the 21st Century in the fields of Acting, Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Fashion, Fine Art, Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture & Design, Landscape Architecture, Motion Pictures & Television, Multimedia Communications, Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, Photography and Web Design & New Media. Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC, NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (Formerly FIDER), (BFA-IAD), and NAAB (M-ARCH). Visit for more information.

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