UNT Engineering Team Is Finalist in NASA Suits Competition

At the University of North Texas Discovery Park, an engineering team of students is making childhood dreams reality, augmented reality.

"So there is a floating beacon over there that's going to show me where to walk to," explained David Woodward, part of the 3-person ARIS, Augmented Reality Interface System team. 

ARIS is one of 15 finalists in the NASA Suits competition, and one of only two Texas teams. Other finalists come from prestigious schools like MIT and Harvard. As the name implies, teams are working on developing new technology for NASA spacesuits. 

"So their next generation of spacesuits, they want to implement augmented reality into the visors of the helmet to help astronauts with the navigation, communication, a wide range of things," said Woodward.

Because spacesuits aren't all that space age anymore. They were last updated in the early 2000s.

"They have to relay what they're seeing to Houston, Houston has to go talk to a team of engineers, then engineers have to get a response and it has to work its way all the way back," said Tim Stern, a team member. "So there's this massive delay in the information chain."

The students' project is meant to help put information in front of the astronauts' eyes and at their fingertips.

"I want to be an astronaut," said team member Juan Ruiz, who immigrated to North Texas from Mexico. "My parents did not have enough money to buy me a computer, so for me, my fascination was to literally look at the stars and let my mind go free."

The team will travel to Johnson Space Center in Houston for the NASA Suits competition finals April 15-19. 

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