Kayla Robinson

With a little work I can make using your computer much easier and enjoyable!Kayla Robinson

Back story

When I was in high school, my mom worked on the far side of Mars setting up a Geology Research Center. She didn’t make it home much because it was still hard to travel then, but we chatted on the computer a lot. She was always asking about my siblings and stuff around the house so I would have to drag everyone into the same room to talk to her at the computer with the video camera.

That’s when I realized that it would be much easier if she could easily switch between computers throughout the house. So I bought a few more video cameras, installed them in other rooms around the house and wrote a program to let her control them. After that, she could talk to my brother in his room and then to my dad in kitchen with the touch of a few buttons.

Character Q&A

I first got interested when I realized that talking with my mom could be improved. It took some work but my whole family benefitted.
My job is to study, develop, and improve the way people interact with technology. As you might have guessed, our base is filled with technologies that help us conduct work and make life easier. I begin my job my examining how people currently use technology and then brainstorm ways to improve that relationship. And because there’s so many different kinds of technology on the base, I get to do something new nearly everyday!
I really enjoy finding ways to make life on the Base more enjoyable through technology. Last month, for example, my team and I updated the environmental controls so that whenever anyone enters a room the lights will automatically turn on and the temperature will change to their prefered setting.
I would have to say that was when I designed a better way for our scientists to interact with the remote Mars rover. Before my work, those operating the rover did so with a four different complex systems of controls. I talked with them and learned that they wanted a more natural way to explore the planet’s surface. With some research, I came up with the idea to copy controls from Earth’s old cars. It made the rover easier and more fun to control for the scientists. !
Definitely, the computer and math classes I took in high school were very valuable. I’ve found that the problem solving skills I developed in math classes come in handy big time! Also, I need to communicate with math scientists all the time so it helps that I can speak their language.
My job requires me to brainstorm ideas all the time. I’ve found that some of the most helpful brainstorming tools are a simple pen and paper. Sketching out your ideas helps you understand them from a new perspective. So I’d say next time you’re stuck on a problem try drawing it out, you might find it more helpful than you thought!



Title Computer Interaction Researcher
What I DoExamine how people use computer systems and improve their design
EducationPh.D. in Human Computer Interaction
SkillsFront-end design of user interfaces
Software architecture design


Aptitude / Personality Profile


My Role Model

 Dr. Alan R. Dennis

Dr. Alan R. Dennis