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One Giant Leap – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Comes to Cal Poly

The lab's Spacecraft Assembly Facility

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mission Control 

Steve Noone of Cal Poly's Graphic Communication Institute (GrCI) 
 with Sunjay Moorthy from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
and Harvey Levenson, former director of the GrCI

With robots, space exploration and a “can-do” attitude in common, it is no surprise that Cal Poly attracted the attention of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), on the Caltech campus. Late last year, JPL reached out to the Graphic Communication Department to maximize its online communication strategies.

Though still in the very early stages of development, the ultimate goal of the collaboration is to create a classroom and laboratory training component at Cal Poly for JPL staff.

“The Graphic Communication Department faculty are very sophisticated, very intellectual, and they know the field. They know the applications of the software, as well as the hardware and technology better than anyone else,” said Harvey Levenson, professor emeritus and former director of the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly (GrCI).

The department embraces the history and impact of print media and production, and leads the industry in the development of cutting-edge digital and print technologies and related emerging disciplines, including user experience. Such credentials encouraged JPL’s Sunjay Moorthy, graphics and photographic services manager, to visit campus and engage the GrCI.

The GrCI, an arm of the Graphic Communication Department, is the center for research, product testing, training and conferences. A GrCI team that included associate Steve Noone, Levenson and students visited JPL to develop recommendations to improve the NASA branch’s website.

Levenson said the next few steps of Cal Poly’s collaboration with NASA’s JPL is to train their employees on the latest software and Web applications.

“That’s the purpose of the GrCI,” Levenson said. “We want to bring knowledge to industry, which translates to knowledge for our students through the relationships that we build.”

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