A Methodology For Measuring Elegance In Engineered Artifacts
This section describes the approach to my independent doctoral research at the University of Alabama Huntsville from 2011 to 2014. For more information on my Dissertation, including a download link, visit this page.
To support the hypothesis that the elegance of a system could be measured, multiple methods were applied. First, a consistent definition of elegance was established. Second, the aesthetic and non-aesthetic characteristics of elegance were defined in a measurable fashion. Finally, the approach to measurement was demonstrated. Inductive reasoning was applied to derive evidence from expert knowledge to generate psychophysical characteristics of elegance. Relevant elegant artifacts were observed and assessed to verify the characteristics of elegance. The next part of the research focused on further defining sub-characteristics representative of the usability and aesthetic characteristics and demonstrating their measurability. Approaches to subjectively or objectively measure usability were defined. The characteristics of usability can be represented via a measurement scale based on difference measurement theories.The aesthetic characteristics of elegant artifacts were deductively determined via observation and expert knowledge, making an argument that these characteristics, in aggregate, appraise the aesthetics of elegant artifacts as defined by the research. Manifestation of these aesthetic characteristics can be assessed via a measurement scale based on difference measurement theories. In order to demonstrate the measurability of aesthetic characteristics (or potentially other subjective characteristics related to elegance), a study was conducted to show how one would deductively prove the measurability of specific aesthetic characteristics related to elegance. This approach used a survey with Likert scales and Bayesian methods to combine subjective assessment via a structured repeatable methodology.
The usability and aesthetic characteristics of elegance were assessed for two artifacts, one of which is measured to be more elegant than the other, by using strict inequalities and approximate standard sequences. The artifacts used in the Study are shown below. The study analyzed the results of a Qualtrics Survey using the Bayesian Truth Serum Methodology.
While at ZPFC, I was awarded two research grants in support of NASA Exploration. These were sub-grants to University Space Research Associates (USRA) in support of NASA Johnson Space Center and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
- Principal Investigator: Support of Chief Scientist of Constellation Systems (2009-2011)
- Co-Investigator: Systems and Mission/Architecture Analysis for NASA Space Exploration Missions (2008-2012)
Selected Products from Grants
- B. Drake et al. “Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0". Mars Architecture Steering Group NASA Headquarters, NASA-SP-2009-56.
- S. Feldman et al. “Analysis of Shroud Options in Support of the Human Exploration of Mars”. Presented at the 2010 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, March 2010.
- S. Feldman, E. Hampton, K. Baggett, J. Hundley, and K. Feldman. “How Technologies Shaped Beyond-Low-Earth Orbit Exploration Roadmaps”. Presented at AIAA Space 2011, Long Beach, California, September 2011.
- S. Feldman, E. Hampton, K. Baggett, J. Hundley, and K. Feldman. “How Propulsion Technology Shaped Beyond-Low-Earth Orbit Exploration Roadmaps”. Presented at the International Space Development Conference. Huntsville, Alabama, May 2011.
- T. Monk, J. Holladay, S. Feldman, K. Baggett. “Earth Departure Stage Technology Requirements for the Mars DRM”. Presented at the 2011 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, March 2011.
- K. Baggett, C. Thrasher, K. Bellamy, S. Feldman. “Engine-out capabilities assessment of heavy lift launch vehicles”. Presented at the 2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, March 2012.
NASA ProSEDS Icarus Satellite
At the University of Michigan, as Project Manager, I led a design team of 60 students from a variety of backgrounds through the design of the Icarus Satellite for the NASA Propulsive Tethered Satellite Mission. Originally called ASTOR-UM, I championed the renaming of the satellite to Icarus since it was designed to fall from the sky as one end of a propulsive tether experiment. This spacecraft went onto be built and tested, but the ProSEDS mission was cancelled prior to launch.
My Role: As project manager, I was the student responsible for project setup and organization, scheduling, resource planning, trade studies, an design. I also prepared the design reviews directly to the NASA MSFC customer. While the team started out small, it quickly grew to over 50 graduate and undergraduate students.
VOrtex Ring Transit Experiment (VORTEX) Space Shuttle Payload
VORTEX was a University of Michigan Get Away Special (GAS) experiment that flew on Space Shuttle Missions STS-89 and STS-88. I worked to coordinate the refurbishing and flight-readying of the VORTEX payload for its reflight on the Space Shuttle STS-88 in 1998. This was primarily an integration task, which involved packing up the payload, driving it from Michigan to NASA Kennedy Space Center, and helping to ready the payload for integration onto the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The GAS integration facility and adjacent buildings were frequented by a variety of snakes. STS-88, carrying the first American component of the International Space Station, successfully launched in December of 1998. Integration photos are shown below.
NASA High Performance Computing and Communication Coronal Mass Ejection Visual Simulation
As part of the NASA High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Earth and Space Sciences Project Science Team II Grand Challenge Investigations at the University of Michigan in 1998, I designed a standardized interface for creating and displaying virtual reality flow visualization models of Heliospheric plasmas in a CAVE Automated Virtual Environment (NASA HPCC). This work was performed by translating Tecplot outputs of Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) models into Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML). Billed as Holodeck-like technology of the time (the late 1990s), the ability to create a projected 3D visual model of the sun, overlaid with CME traces, and to included basic animated features like the orbiting Ulysses spacecraft, was really novel and exciting visual experience. This project was written up in NASA insights in 1998, and you can still read the entire article here.
Liquid Droplet Radiator
Working with Dr. Terry Kammash, I analyzed the feasibility of Liquid Drop Radiators for use on a spacecraft propelled by a Gas Dynamic Mirror fusion propulsion system. In addition to analysis, this work resulted in some of my first concept visualization and 3D modeling of large starship-class spacecraft. Later, as principle investigator, I developed a corresponding experiment involving the pointing of liquid droplet radiators in microgravity, which flew on the NASA KC-135 microgravity simulator.
NASA Reduced Gravity Flight Opportunities Program
At the University of Michigan, I proposed, organized, and constructed a microgravity experiment that was flown on the NASA KC-135 microgravity simulator. The experiment involved asymmetric oscillations for fluid movement in microgravity. I was involved with two additional microgravity experiments, including being Principal Investigator on an experiment involving liquid droplet radiator pointing.