WSU team selected for NASA SUITS Design Challenge


A proposal submitted by an interdisciplinary Wichita State University team of seven members was selected for the top 10 in the 2021-22 NASA Space Suit Interface Technologies for Students (SUITS) Design Challenge.

This is WSU’s second year in this competition. In 2020, another WSU team made it into the top 20 teams. This is the furthest a WSU team has advanced to date. The NASA SUITS Design Challenge challenge is an opportunity for students to participate in NASA’s Artemis mission by designing an augmented reality solution for space suit helmets for future astronaut missions on the moon.

Group photo of seven members of NASA SUIT Design Challenge team HarvestStars.

Artemis’ mission aims to create a sustained human presence on the Moon, starting with landing the first person of color and the first woman on the Moon, said Bill Bui, WSU team student lead.

The team, named the HarveStars after Wichita’s wheat HarveStars, is in the top 10 for the challenge and consists of members from the WSU’s College of Engineering, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and College of Innovation and Design. The team is comprised of seven students:

  • Oluwasayo Adekalu, Valerie Hubener and Phillip Zavala — innovation and design graduate students
  • Abbie Hutton and Bill Vu Bui — psychology human factors graduate students
  • Ramil Hinshaw, a senior in computer science
  • Radeef Ashhab Bin Karim, a freshman in aerospace engineering

The team’s initial task for phase one was to develop their proposal. Generally, the purpose of the proposal conveys the framework of the team’s design and how the design will meet the operational requirements of this year’s competition. The HarveStars’ proposal included four primary mission objectives: user interface and controls, terrain sensing, extravehicular activity system state, and navigation.

“Our initial challenge was to design an augmented reality head-mounted display that encompasses these four objectives,” Bui said. “We proposed the integrated system named HARVIE (Holographic Augmented Reality Visualization Interface for Exploration) and our headset displays features — such as waypoint markers, navigational maps, potential hazards, battery life and carbon dioxide levels.”

For the next phase, the team is working on developing the user interface designs they submitted in a proposal. Amanda Smith, the HarveStars’ NASA mentor and a WSU alumna, said the HarveStars’ proposal was thorough. Smith, a human factors engineer for KBR Inc., became the HarveStars’ NASA mentor after reviewing the team’s initial proposal and volunteering for the position.

“Our team was selected because they were able to clearly convey an innovative, feasible design that meets the requirements for this year’s competition,” Smith said. “They also provided an appropriate, thorough test plan and an organized method for managing resources and generating results.”

Smith also believes the students’ diverse educational background advanced their chances.

“The team is well-rounded, representing areas of expertise needed to excel in this competition,” Smith said. “As an alumna, I am both excited and honored to watch the progress of this team.”

The team will go on to compete with nine other university teams, including members of Stanford University and Carnegie Melon, in May at the Johnson Space Center located in Houston. The team will show members of NASA the tech they designed, while also touring the NASA facilities and working alongside its employees.

For more information about the competition or to join the team next year, contact Maggie Schoonover.

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