Contacts: Lisa Cohen
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Karen Jenvey
NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
March 12, 2012
RELEASE : 12-03-12
Academy of Art University and NASA Announce Design Partnership
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- This semester, Academy of Art University Industrial Design students will collaborate with the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. to design a user interface that will allow future astronauts in space to remotely operate a robot on Earth. A number of thesis level students have been chosen and will use a variety of design skills to complete the project, including storyboarding, task analysis, ideation, brainstorming, sketching and rendering. The students’ work will be used to create the user interface elements, including icons wireframes and glyphs. Simultaneously the team is identifying opportunities for additional design disciplines to be integrated into the experience. Already the team is starting conceptual work on interior architecture, product design, and apparel.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to contribute to our country's innovative space program," said Dr. Elisa Stephens, President of Academy of Art University. “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."

The NASA project will require students to create storyboards that show how astronauts in space can perform work on the ground using robots. The students will also develop sketches and paper prototypes, emphasizing graphical elements and other highly usable displays for the astronauts. A group of NASA scientists will be present at the Academy of Art University classes to work with the students and students will also have an opportunity to 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 Dr. Terry Fong, Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA 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."

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 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 International 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 the NASA Ames Research Center. 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 this 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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