A new research project announced recently that they are working on developing tools to assist astronauts as they explore space. The study, spearheaded by a $750,000 grant from NASA, took over three years and was a combined effort of the College of Engineering’s electrical and computer engineering department, the Electronic Design Laboratory and the College of Human Ecology, including the kinesiology department and the apparel, textiles and interior design department.
The project was designed to develop a new type of wearable suit that will monitor the health of astronauts in space and make it easier to make sure they are healthy and not experiencing any difficulties.
“This project supports a number of undergraduate and graduate students in doing systems-level engineering research and making them the technologists of the future,” states William Kuhn, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at The College of Engineering.
The project’s stated goals were:
- Developing and testing biosensors that can monitor astronauts’ vital data, such as breathing rate or muscle activity.
- Creating a specialized wireless network so that spacesuit biosensors can communicate with each other and with a space station.
- Using energy harvesting technology to power radios and biosensors while an astronaut is in a spacesuit.
- Building hardware prototypes for biosensors and energy harvesting electronics.
- Producing spinoff technologies, such as new radio technologies and devices that apply to home care.
Steven Warren, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the same school, states, “This project is a good example of how when you do something in space, everything needs to be rethought — human elements and nonhuman elements of the system. We have a lot to learn about human physiology and what happens to a person as they physically change in a reduced-gravity environment.”
This latest advancement shows that even though our national space program may not be doing much, our researchers are hard at work developing new ways to conquer and explore this exciting new frontier. Engineering students in these fields will have plenty of options available to them in the workforce if they choose to follow this course of study and make their own impact on global space exploration.
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