Mechanical Maker Challenge

Design a system of outreach products and experiences for NASA Jet Propulsion laboratory public outreach project to get the public involved in a funded study.


Visual Design / Brand Strategy


NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
Interaction & Strategic Design Contractor
Spring 2018

The Mechanical Maker Challenges is a series of challenges that seek to engage the maker community's creativity to invent mechanical ways of performing traditionally electrical tasks. Challenges will be released in series, one at a time. The output of these challenges will contribute to the development of NASA’s AREE (Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments) mission concept.

My role as an Interaction & strategic designer was to focus on user experience scenarios and brand strategy. Establish a brand architecture, create challenge infographics, and design both digital/physical assets for public outreach.

**Not all work from this project has been cleared by NASA. This project will continue to be updated as the approval process continues.


AREE Mission Concept

The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) is funded for study by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. AREE was first proposed in 2015 by Jonathan Sauder, a mechatronics engineer at JPL. He was inspired by mechanical computers, which use levers and gears to make calculations rather than electronics.

By avoiding electronics, a rover might be able to better explore Venus. The planet's hellish atmosphere creates pressures that would crush most submarines. Its average surface temperature is 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius), high enough to melt lead.


Brand Strategy & Design


Brand Architecture

Being a series of challenges, I identified an opportunity to design and structure a brand architecture that is able to scale for future missions. This would accommodate additional maker challenges under the diverse branches of NASA. This can be a range of disciplines from structural, electrical, sustainable, material, biomechanical, digital, and more.

This would be a monolithic solution - each constituent follows the master brand’s lead. “Maker Challenge” as the master brand, and the diverse branches of NASA as the constituents.


The Top left mark is a visual indicator that frames the area of work relating to NASA. In this case, 'Mechanical' paired with a distinct cool-grey mark. It was important to communicate the type of challenge on two levels - seeing the color and reading the word.



A Series of Challenges

The mechanical eye is the first of three challenge of the series.

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Challenge Icons

The icons are designed on a play of words relating to the output of the challenge. Mechanical eye (gear, eye and camera viewfinder)

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The typography is required to meet NASA;s brand guidelines. Typeface for headlines, subheads, body text and call-outs should be Helvetica.

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Color Palete

Primary colors

Black and white are used to convey information clearly. This ensures clarity when describing the challenge and requirements.

Secondary Colors

Red, Yellow and Blue are used to highlight and visually communicate key elements when designing infographics. Each color has 4 variations to create shading for isometric components.

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Infographic Design


The goal was to visually communicate the challenge so viewers can quickly understand the challenge at a high-level before diving into the details. My approach was to convert static 2D image into simple, yet compelling 3D image.

Challenge Description

Currently, there are no cameras or imagers that work for more than a few minutes at Venus temperatures. However, photodiodes may soon be developed which could operate at Venus temperatures. The challenge is to build a mechanical camera system that can take an image with no more than one photo diode and meet the following challenge requirements

Challenge Requirements

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