Holmes Run Acres Website Refresh
Holmes Run Acres Civic Association
CLIENT
Holmes Run Acres Civic Association
category
DATE
2020
The most visited museum in the world, The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, approached BYT to collaborate on the first ever official open to the public ticketed after hours event at their Washington DC location.

I managed all production of the event including creative direction, client communication, budgeting, staffing, vendor management, bar and catering ops, talent booking and stage management, sponsorships, volunteer management, attractions, security, ticketing, site plans, setup, and teardown.

The first event in 2017 was such a success, we were asked back in 2018 for a second event, totaling 3,800 tickets sold and over 4,200 attendees.
The sold out events featured music talent from Washed Out, Moon Boots, & The Range, special Voyager Golden Record mini-music meditation sessions in the planetarium from Take 5 and Songbyrd, plus the official opening of the new interactive museum exhibition re-creating the famous hotel scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The events also featured unique sponsor activations from SKYY, PBR, & Effen Vodka, a promotional and branding partnership with the Yuri's Night organization, custom green screen floating-in-space photobooths, unique roaming performers, TED-style space talks, scavenger hunts, a midnight Ready Player One screening, and specialty cocktails and food from Service Bar, Snowing in Space, Sweetgreen, Bar Pilar & many more.
Photos © BYT Media, Inc
I co-created The Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival in 2009 with BYT and Tig Notaro. The goal was to create a comedy festival that both entertained the audience, but also treated the talent well, something that was severely lacking in the industry at the time. After bringing the fest back annually in 2013 it has attracted over 25,000 people and become known for showcasing both top and emerging talent with one-of-kind shows at Washington DC's top venues, unique performances in unlikely spaces, and plenty of surprise guests and after parties. My involvement in the festival included end-to-end production and logistics, creative direction, talent booking, venue relationships, marketing and ticketing, sponsor management, customer service, micro-site design, staffing, plus showrunning and hosting.

featuring

  • Sarah Silverman
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic
  • Bill Burr
  • Jessica Williams
  • Jonathan Van Ness
  • How Did This Get Made?
  • Amanda Seales
  • Nick Kroll
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • Jenny Slate
  • Janeane Garofalo
  • John Hodgman
  • Adam Friedland
  • Jim Gaffigan
  • Chelsea Peretti
  • Ira Glass
  • Phoebe Robinson
  • Patton Oswalt
  • Doug Benson
  • Dr. Katz
  • Reggie Watts
  • Al Franken
  • Rob Corddry
  • Tim Heidecker
  • Brandon Wardell
  • & many more!
"...it was really a magical weekend."
Washingtonian
"...boundlessly creative"
salon.com
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Photos © BYT Media, Inc

brief

The Zeit end-to-end UX concept was a seven-week project completed for DesignLab’s UX Academy. The task was to design a responsive ecommerce web site and branding for a fictional company offering time travel vacation packages to the past.

Research

General online travel market research and a competitive analysis were conducted with provisional personas. Key findings indicated that Zeit would need to be a hybrid website that was offering a specific controlled experience, similar to a cruise, but also a unique adventure, like a safari package. The wide variety of available experiences and time periods on offer meant a large pool of potential users.
The primary design challenge would be accurately organize and attractively present the large quantity of available packages. Remote video user interviews we conducted along with a quick research survey in order to determine how users typically searched for vacation destinations and what motivated them to make their final travel choices. The user persona of Larry was developed, a 67-year-old retiree traveling with his wife who was looking for adventure, but also safety, was motivated by good deals, and primarily was interested in seeing sites/attractions, nature, and to learn about history. If the site passed the Larry test, it could work for most anyone else.

LARRY

"The flight is at noon, so we need to get to the airport by 6am..."

Age: 67
Occupation: Retired
Status: Married
Location: Hilton Head Island, SC
Archetype: The Bucket List Cruiser

LARRY

"The flight is at noon, so we need to get to the airport by 6am..."

Age: 67
Occupation: Retired
Status: Married
Location: Hilton Head Island, SC
Archetype: The Bucket List Cruiser

DEFINE

Project goals were defined, a feature roadmap was created, a preliminary sitemap was established, and wireframes were quickly sketched. A card sorting exercise was conducted remotely but did not yield any actionable items. A User flow was created for Larry detailing the process of booking a trip.

DESIGN

As a lot of flexibility was allowed in the final design, it made sense to start with low fidelity wireframes to brainstorm possible layout options. Driven by the broad appeal of the service, the potentially non-tech savy user personas, and market research, it was eventually decided that following standard UX and UI best practices and layout would be the smart choice. Any differentiation and creativity in design could be saved for the content vs the form. Responsive annotated home page designs were created for desktop, tablet and mobile as well as desktop wireframes for the trip listing page:
The brand identity was established through an iterative logo design process including dozens of sketches and digital concepts driven by feedback from group crits. While some design ideas were actually quite successful, they failed the versatility and scalability test. One casualty of our increasingly responsive world is the elaborate and complex logo design:
The final logo design included an impossible shape lgoomark that also represented and hourglass and the letter Z. An initial style tile was created, a portion of which is below:
As UI design began, the color was shifted to a dark mode palette to help the project stand out from competitors. Initial responsive designs were created for the desktop and trip listing pages and the style tile was then upgraded to a UI kit to match the new direction.

Highlights from the UI kit:
Usability testing was done both through in-person moderated testing using a Figma prototype as well as unmoderated remote testing through Maze. Users were tasked to see if they were able to find and book a trip to see the Wright Brothers First Flight. The task completion rates were highly successful and users ended up following a variety of different paths to arrive at their destination. A second prototype involved only minor iterations to fidelity and transitions, plus and additional check-out screens with no need for modifications to the overal flows or design.

Interactive desktop prototype:
Detail of the final home page design:

Next...

Before handoff, another round of usability testing would need to be completed on the new pages, especially the checkout screens and a mobile prototype would need to be created and tested as well.
All photos and images used for educational purposes only.
Official NASA Gear (https://officialnasagear.com/) is an ecommerce merchandise store owned and operated by the NASA Ames Exchange, an instrumentality of the US Government, located at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. The brand was created with the sole purpose of supporting NASA employees, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to employee morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) activities. Impressed with the work done by Oxcart Assembly on the Launch America Space X project, they approached us with a desire to elevate the aesthetics, professionalism, and usability of their existing site to better house the higher quality products they wanted to bring in.
The original site was an unreadable jumbled mess.
In designing the new logo for the brand I wanted to utilize the classic NASA "Worm" logo, which is beloved by designers and helped elevate the "cool" factor of the site. The final design was based off guidelines from the 1976 NASA Graphics Standard Manual, specifically taking inspiration from the Cover Design specifications and the Ames Research Center Tech Briefs. Leaving the word "Official" off the logo also helped get this design approved faster, a request from the client.
I chose a new BigCommerce theme that had a sleek and modern feel, better readability, a mega-menu, and a product card feature which would give them a way to promote new products and specials without having to solely rely on an automated carousel. I revised the site map, streamlining navaigation and getting rid of categories such as "Novelties" that did not fit with new aesthetic. Featured products were given new photo treatments, custom product card and carousel banner images were created and a brand guide was delivered.
The final product, Desktop screenshot
"I am very stoked at how it turned out, it's extremely professional and All looks outstanding."
- Kenneth Ashford, Executive Director, NASA Ames Research Center Exchange

Events DC

In March of 2019, Events DC wanted to create an activation at SXSW that would celebrate and elevate the District's place in the vibrant e-sports community. My goal was to customize the activation for every attendee, no matter their gaming experience level. A “levels unlocked” concept, allowed guests to choose-their-own-adventure and advance further into the activation from casual gaming on retro arcade cabinets to the chance to compete against professional players on the latest platforms, along with music performances from national acts, video game-inspired craft cocktails from Drink Co., custom LED tunnels and projections, Loot Box scavenger hunts, and playful, interactive scenic installations. Later in the year we continued the campaign in DC with a block party experience in conjunction with the opening of Drink Co.'s new eSports theme pop-up bar.
All Photos © Advoc8, LLC
Advoc8 was tapped to bring new life into the long running food festival that can only happen in DC: a cooking competition between embassy chefs. I chose passport stamps as the anchor in the creative design concept with custom gobos lighting up the epic Ronald Reagan Building atrium. Additionally we created custom passport holders to house the program and various communal dining areas themed to different regions to once again create the feeling of travel and adventure.
All Photos © Advoc8, LLC

additional event work photos

2019 Citi Open Tennis Tournament
CNN Political Hangover Brunch
TOMS Shoes End Gun Violence Together Rally
Google Digital Africa Reception
Camp Amazon at St Judes
AEM Infrastructure Week Reception
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All Photos © Advoc8, LLC

SOCIAL MEDIA

I was also put in charge of the lackluster Advoc8 social media accounts, here are two videos I did creative direction on, working with the super talented video and motion graphics team:
I turned a money-losing afterthought into the biggest Capital Pride fundraiser of the year that has attracted over 23,000 attendees since 2010. This co-promoted event to kick off the Pride weekend has covered dancefloors in glitter at prestigious venues like The Newseum and Arena Stage to complete build-outs of unique warehouse spaces like the Wonderbread Factory and Hechts Warehouse. For 2018 we helped turn Echostage into a new go-to destination for the LGBT crowd.

I also brought in MGM National Harbor as a major sponsor for Capital Pride. Activations included an interactive element-inspired backdrop photoshoot wall, themed drag and dance performances promoting their upcoming concerts, and a video photobooth that simultaneous created instagram-ready clips for personal use, and advertisement-ready clips for Metro ads to run throughout the weekend.
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rei united outside campaign

The nation’s largest consumer co-op engaged BYT extensively in 2016 as a key partner in their east coast flagship store opening. The nearly year-long project included a number of in-house produced events such as the #UnitedOutside launch party at the National Museum of American History, the beef jerky celebration Jerky Fest, and the Wild Kitchen outdoor dinner series supporting conservation partners, all culminating in a massive six-day opening celebration at the new store.
All Photos © BYT Media, Inc.

Library of Congress & National Archives

Two institutions partnered with an outside organization to host after hours events for the first time in their history. Bibliodiscotheque, a celebration of disco culture at the Library of Congress sold 1750 tickets in under 1 minute and featured a live performance by Gloria Gaynor, while the National Archives event celebrated the opening of the Spirited Republic exhibition covering the history of alcohol in the US, featuring craft cocktails from local mixologists with sponsorship from Heineken, Budweiser, and Tanqueray.
All Photos © BYT Media, Inc.

fotoweekdc

From 2014-2017 BYT took over production of FotoWeekDC, Washington DC’s largest visual arts festival, a truly citywide celebration attracting 40,000+ visitors annually to 150+ exhibitions, programs, and events highlighting world-class photography, and providing exposure for photographers working locally and worldwide.
All Photos © BYT Media, Inc.

National Geographic Partnership

In a unique partnership with National Geographic, BYT was given unprecedented access to their entire DC HQ where I created an annual after-hours museum experience selling over 15,000 tickets since 2012. The events were a choose-your-own adventure of info-tainment for the well-read DC creative class, featuring TED-style talks from emerging Explorers, music performances and dancefloors, pop-up interactive science exhibitions, craft cocktails, and much more.
All Photos © BYT Media, Inc.

Everything else

RAGNARÖCK - A Hirshhorn Late Night
Snallygaster Beer Festival
We The Party People @ Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Into the Blue - National Portrait Gallery After Hours
Wonder At Night & Murder House Party @ Renwick Gallery
All Photos © BYT Media, Inc.
“BYT have staked their claim in the DC events scene and are quickly becoming a destination for brands and sponsors to create content, connect with consumers, and generate impressions.”
-Kevin Burke, Regional Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola

brief

Holmes Run Acres (HRA) is a small woodsy mid-century modern community in Falls Church, Virginia. When the first homes were built there in 1951, the modern architecture was a radical departure from the typical colonial and ranch houses that dominated the post-war building boom in the Washington, DC area. The Holmes Run Acres Civics Association (HRACA), the organization that maintains the community website, was looking for a refresh, as the current site had not had any significant updates since first being built in 2014.

Research Survey

As the site was maintained on a volunteer basis using the Weebly platform with minimal budget, research was needed to prioritize only the essential updates. I had access to the neighborhood email listserv, an active and opinionated group, in order to conduct an initial survey, which garnered 87 responses. Key findings included:

1) 62% only visited the site a few times a year
2) 36% visited the site before moving to HRA
3) 50% visited the site on a mobile device or tablet
4) 58% did not feel they were able to find all the information they needed

LARRY

"The flight is at noon, so we need to get to the airport by 6am..."

Age: 67
Occupation: Retired
Status: Married
Location: Hilton Head Island, SC
Archetype: The Bucket List Cruiser
The site was only partially responsive, so unsurprisingly when asked for general comments and features, mobile-friendliness was high on the list. Additionally, users wanted to see more photos of homes, get help with renovations, and have a place for general neighborhood news and updates.

tree testing

Due to the haphazard and piecemeal navigation structure of the original site with ambiguous categories such as "Resources" and grouping a number of miscellaneous items under "More...", along with the consistent feedback from users that information was difficult to find, as well as doing some market research on other neighborhood community sites, I began to craft a new IA from scratch. I proceeded to test this new structure through four unmoderated iterative tree tests with 40 individuals (both HRA residents and the general public) using two different test platforms.
Results were consistent over both tests, with the new navigation outperforming the original on each task. Additional moderated Zoom interviews were conducted to confirm results and get general feedback.

Design

The original non-mobile friendly home page included a slideshow of photos which included many poorly cropped and badly lit images along with some high quality shots that were of outdated community events not relevant to the general public. It did not do the neightborhood justice. The page also utilized a vintage map as a background image, which in other contexts may have worked, but felt out of place here and in user testing actually confused someone who thought some of the map text was clickable:
I reached out to a local architect who had done some recent renovations in the neighborhood and successfully pitched a win-win if we could use his photos for the site. This was important to me as the survey revealed a number of users had visited the page before moving to the neighborhood, and a general goal of the HRACA was to prevent developers from knocking down homes to replace with "McMansions", thus having professional quality photos on the site would be a way to attract new residents that would appreciate the unique architecture.

Along with implementing the new IA, I also created three quick link icons for the home page in mid-century modern signage styles calling out two of the survey respondents most frequented pages along with the newly created News & Updates blog, a requested feature:
When testing the site on a retina display, I noticed the new icons were blurry, so I replaced them with SVG files hand coded into the page and added some CSS hover animation, since neither were things Weebly natively supported.

Upgrading the Weebly theme to a more modern version fixed most of the responsive issues. I also reached out to additional photographers in the neighborhood who contributed a number of great photos that I used in the new and improved slideshow as well as throughout the site:
The original site also utilized a strange array of inconsistent headers, poorly cropped and heavily compressed images, random colors, and difficult to read text:
I standardized fonts and style throughout the site and implemented a collection of Mid-Century Modern pattern headers for each section:

NExt...

Additional user and tree testing could be completed to further refine the IA as some additional changes were made after the initial round of testing. Secondly, a case could be made to move the site to a more robust platform as Weebly has quite a of of limitations, but at this time the HRACA board is happy with the results and feels more comfortable making updates on the system they already know.

problem

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a 5,000 person study finding that higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction. Through the work and warnings of Tristan Harris, Jonathan Haidt, Jaron Lanier, and others along with the recent popularity of The Social Dilemma documentary, the problems and issues surrounding the attention economy have exploded into the popular consciousness. Users are now aware that their behaviors on their phone are detrimental but find it difficult to change them.

Additional research done by Adam Gazzaley, Founding Directory of the Neuroscience Imaging Center, has shown that the problem extends beyond just addictive apps themselves, but also specific behaviors such as self-interrupting and sub-optimal foraging. These detrimental activities can be countered by single-tasking and sustained attention on a single activity.
“If you're an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine.”
- Tristan Harris, Center for Humane Technology

idea

Halt is a concept app that monitors addictive smartphone behavior such as endlessly doomscrolling Twitter and then interrupts the users with prompts to engage in more beneficial activities, both digital and IRL. The voice of the app would be aggressive and geared towards people who have self-identified that they have a problem but do not have the willpower to fix it. The app would include many customizations such as the ability to set which apps it monitors, how often it would interrupt, what type of activities would be recommended, along with maintaining statistics/streaks on usage.

Competitive Analysis

The landscape is crowded with apps and software that address this problem and all of them include a standard set of features such as:
  • Blocking distracting apps, websites, or locking the entire phone
  • Usage tracking/stats
  • Setting time limits and receiving notifications when limits have been exceeded
One app, Forest, also offered gamification in the form of planting a 30-minute digital tree which would die if a user opened their phone before it grew to maturity.

Opportunity: None of the current solutions provide alternate tasks or solutions to the problematic behavior. Halt could also be monetized by partnering with third parties to integrate their content, such as meditation or exercise apps, educational publications, or short video lectures.

User Interviews

Four user interviews were conducted with people who self-identified as having an addiction to their phone or had certain behaviors they would like to do less of, which is the sole criteria needed for using the app.

Key Findings:
  • Phone usage had increased during COVID and when working from home
  • Endlessly scrolling Instagram and Facebook were identified as the top culprits
  • Other activities were going down mainstream news rabbit holes, obsessively monitoring stocks, YouTube, and playing mobile games
  • Two users used social media and other sites like craigslist for their own businesses but felt that they either spent too much time on that side of it or would easily get distracted by unrelated things on those platforms
  • Users were engaging in these activities while watching their children, at home with their spouse, or during work meetings
  • All users felt like the concept of the app was a good idea and they would be interested in using it.
  • One user was concerned about privacy.
“Virtually impossible to do any other activity without your phone in your hand.”
“Absolutely addicted. I saw The Social Dilemma and it really got to me.”
Activities that users would rather be doing than social media:
  • Fixing up the house / doing chores
  • Tasklist/progress on projects
  • Meaningful engagement with their significant others, children, friends
  • Focusing on their actual job
  • Reading a physical book
  • Go for a walk outside
  • More selective/beneficial YouTube watching or online article reading vs pop culture
  • Looking at art
  • Just doing things in regular/real life
SME Interview

An interview was conducted with a personal trainer/coach to gain additional insight into the tone and techniques that the app used. The primary feedback was the need to be able to “choose your coach” between positive and encouraging to drill sergeant and aggressive. Before working with a client, she establishes what style they want. It was noted the tone could always be informal and “sassy”, but the level of shaming could be dialed up and down. A second recommendation was a weekly check-in so the user could monitor their progress on the dashboard.

Design and prototype Testing

The three main parts of the app that needed to be designed and tested included the installation and onboarding, the dashboard and settings, and then an actual interruption with alternate task recommendations. Due to the rapid high fidelity mockup capabilities of Figma, traditional sketches and wireframes were skipped for a digital sandbox approach. A number of unsuccessful aesthetic ideas, color schemes, and layouts were experimented with and presented in group crit environments.
The final design combined a glitch/static background with clean and bright module overlays to represent both detrimental and positive user behaviors.
 
An interactive prototype was created and tested with five users who were observed and interviewed over two different sessions while being tasked with:
  • Registering the app
  • Exploring the Dashboard and settings
  • Experiencing an interruption while using Twitter
  • Choosing alternate activities
For the first phase of the testing, the app begins with a glitch animation of the logo, then brings the user to the registration screen (or login), requiring a confirmation code, and finally a three-screen onboarding introduction. No users had any trouble with this standard process and only minor aesthetic iterations were made to the registration process.
The onboarding screens had gone through a fairly lengthy iterative design process before arriving at the final version, with the original concept consisting of a much more involved setup process where users could customize settings before getting to the dashboard (see abandoned task flow below). After additional research on onboarding best practices and feedback from a group crit session, the process was simplified by having the app start with default settings allowing the user to get to the dashboard quicker. This decision was validated during testing where most users were eager to get through the onboarding screens quickly to explore the app functionality on their own time.
Final detail registration and onboarding screens:
“We've all been enrolled in a psychological experiment for which no one gave consent”
- Sam Harris, Waking Up App
 
The second phase of the prototype testing process tasked users with exploring the dashboard in a more open-ended format by having them explain how they believed each section of the app worked.

They were then tasked with the following actions:
  • Add a new to-do list item to the custom task list
  • Change the coaching style based on their personal preferences
  • View the stats page
  • Pause and resume Halt monitoring services
While the tasks were all successful, the testing revealed a lot of confusion over what each section of the app was for. Once explained, everyone understood, but iterations were clearly needed.
The Dashboard was given a complete overhaul, replacing some of the irreverent wordplay with more standard label text that the average user could better understand.

The icons were also standardized across all four sections. The Pause and Resume function initially worked as an immediate toggle button, but now opened up to another screen with a more robust feature set, matching how the rest of the app flowed.

Finally, additional animation tweaks were made to transitions to better represent real-world behavior, at least as far as the Figma prototyping tools allowed.
Final detail To-Do List, Pause, and Settings screens and a non-functional concept Stats screen:
“The difference between getting 10 likes and 20 likes, it’s all just meaningless.”
- Adam Alter, Stern School of Business
 
The third and final phase of prototype testing had users experience the app in action. After browsing Twitter, Halt would interrupt their session by forcibly glitching out the screen (admittedly a challenge for development, possible solution is to take a static screenshot and then applying the effect) and then presenting the user with the alternate activities. Users were asked to:
  • Attempt to close out the notification
  • Try out all three activities
  • Check off a to-do list item
  • Change settings on activities from the main notification page and detail page
This phase did not pose any challenges for users and iterations were minor. One change was removing the More and Less Like This options on the To-Do List settings, as one user correctly pointed out that if they had in fact added a custom to-do they would always want this to be available until completed.
One more quick round of user testing was completed after all changes had been made. The user was able to successfully understand all functions of the app without any hints and completed all tasks without error.

Final detail Interruption, Close modal, and Activity Screens:
“Human beings evolved to gossip, preen, manipulate, and ostracize. We are easily lured into this new gladiatorial circus.”
- Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic

final prototype

This is the final interactive prototype, hover mouse to begin (recommended for desktop only), or launch in a new window.

Background

Astrobotic Technology, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, was selected by NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) in 2017 to develop a small lunar rover architecture capable of performing small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces. In March 2018, the team was awarded funds to move on to Phase II, and under this agreement, Astrobotic will produce a flight-ready rover that will fly on Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2021. This rover will be the first derivative of a CubeRover, a spinoff called IRIS, being developed completely by CMU students
In 2020 the team started work internally on a new brand identity and an informational marketing website for the IRIS rover, but quickly abandoned the project due to bandwidth constraints. After being impressed with the on-air jackets for the recent Launch America Space-X mission created by Oxcart Assembly, they reached out to see if they could have something similar created for their own project. As these jackets would require patches, the conversation then led to Oxcart taking over the entire logo, brand identity, and web presence.

Research

Oxcart began work on the new IRIS branding through a series of client interviews, surveys, and working sessions. While I participated and used this information to inform the website design concept, the brilliant logo and patch design was the work of Chris Logsdon.

Provisional Personas

Three archetypes were created based on client interviews and market research:
The Stargazer is a self-proclaimed "space nerd" and enthusiast. They watch Apollo documentaries, know astronomy facts, enjoy visits to the National Air & Space Museum, and have read some Stephen Hawking. The group has an enormous amount of variability though in terms of other hobbies and interests, occupations, geographical location, and marital status. The Stargazer could be teenager that loves sci-fi and video games, to a grandpa that actually watched the first moon landing on TV. What unites this archetype is their love of space.

The Student may be an aspiring CMU engineer, an existing CMU student, or an engineering student in another school. They have a lot of demographic overlap with traditional students and a lot of interest overlap with The Stargazer. Note, that while STEM generally skews male, IRIS is a female-led team and there could be an opportunity there to specifically attract female STEM students to become fans of the project.

The science blogger is a member of the media who is writing a story on IRIS. They think they just want the hard cold facts and a quick download of the media kit, but by giving them aesthetically appealing and engaging content it will subconsciously make then more enthusiastic, and accurate, in their writing.

Other potential users, whose goals will be similar to the above archetypes include:
  • Friends and Family
  • CMU faculty
  • Aerospace recruiters
  • Other lunar rover teams

More to Come...

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