HCI graduate student wins major NASA fellowship

Steven Johnson, a first-year graduate student specializing in human-computer interaction, has won a prestigious national fellowship from NASA.  Under the auspices of the fellowship, Johnson will work with his advisor, Assistant Professor Bilge Mutlu, on a project called “Automated Task Monitoring, Feedback and Training for Critical Missions.”

Says Johnson, “The motivation for the project is that engineers and astronauts on NASA missions must frequently follow lengthy and complex sets of directions to perform the tasks required of them. Missing or not properly executing even a single step of the directions for these tasks is often costly and can be life-threatening. At a high level, we plan to develop a set of principles to computationally represent complex tasks and to design specific feedback and instructional strategies to either minimize errors or maximize recall for whomever is interacting with the system.”

The NASA award will provide funding for Johnson for the duration of his PhD studies and also enable him to visit a NASA base each year to collaborate with NASA team members on the project.

A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Johnson earned his undergraduate degree at Drake University in Des Moines.  Johnson is the department’s second NASA Fellow, the first being Dan Szafir, who also studies with Prof. Mutlu.