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Doule, Students Win Spacecraft Interior Design Contest

A team led by Ondrej Doule, assistant professor in Florida Tech’s School of Human Centered Design, Innovation and Art, and featuring students Joseph Torkaman, De Vere Michael Kiss, Kareim Elbaz and Azeez Batcha won the grand prize for their design of the interior of a proposed single-person spacecraft.

The three-month student competition was sponsored by Maryland-based Genesis Engineering Solutions, a frequent NASA contractor. The winners were selected by a panel of experienced space experts including Genesis personnel, a former NASA astronaut, NASA human factors engineers, and specialists in robotics.

Florida Tech’s WHISPS Team, or Wholly Human Integrated Single Person Spacecraft, won $2,500. They and other teams were encouraged to develop creative internal designs using only existing technologies, according to information from Genesis. Furthermore, they had to provide controls for flying the spacecraft and operating robotic arms all while floating in zero-gravity. The interior had to include displays and controls, warning lights and alarms, pilot restraints and creature comforts.

“Our group was fortunate enough to have a team with specialized skills and experience in the domains of commercial aviation, microgravity operations, and aerospace and mechanical engineering design,” Torkaman said, according to a Genesis news release. “Our layout design would not have been successful without the multidisciplinary collective of knowledge that made up the WHISPS team.”

The WHISPS Team submission balanced new, unproven technology in space like touch pads with old-school analog knobs reminiscent of the 80’s-era shuttle displays and controls.

Doule said, “The Human-Centered Design methodology of cognitive and physical function analysis, by Dean Guy Boy, was essential to our success. I am sure that the SPS project is just a great beginning and that we will contribute to human spaceflight R&D much more in the near future.”

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