Elin Björling

Autumn 2019

Project EMAR

Adolescents are subject to high levels of stress in their lives, resulting from school, relationships, and family life. Not surprisingly, school stress is most commonly reported as the biggest source of stress for teens. Therefore, accurately measuring and intervening to reduce teen stress is imperative to support this vulnerable population.

Social robots are being used to help other populations, such as the elderly and young children. However, there is very little research on either the experience of stress in teens, or the interactions between teens and robots. This presents a unique research opportunity in the field of human-robot interaction (HRI).

Our interdisciplinary team is working on three projects for Fall quarter: (1) design and development of robotic movement and haptics interfaces, (2) implementation and testing of intuitive social robot programming tools, and (3) building out and launching a website for data collection from teens and visualization of collected data. 

For more information, see our blog at

The team is led by Elin Björling (Human-Centered Design and Engineering) and Maya Cakmak, (Computer Science and Engineering).

Interested students:

We are looking for highly engaged students who collaborate and communicate well with a diverse team. As a participatory project, previous experience working with teens is ideal. We are also specifically seeking students with skills in interaction design, mechatronics and fabrication for robotics and haptics, web development (HTML, CSS, Javascript) and software engineering. Please submit a cover letter describing your interest and a resume detailing your skillset to Applications will be accepted until 9/15 and accepted students will be notified no later than 9/16.

Note: team meetings will likely be Mondays from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Ideal students will be available at this time to connect with the full team.

Autumn 2019

Project RESeT: Relaxation Environment for Stress in Teens



Today’s teens are suffering from increased stress and depression, impacting their mental and physical health. A great deal of stress stems from school and academics, thus we are working to design a self-administered VR station aimed to reduce student stress.

Our Focus

In order to provide an intervention tool that is successful in reducing stress in teens, we first must engage teens in the design of such a tool.  Therefore, we use a participatory approach to human-centered design, specifically co-design, working with teens and using evidenced-based data at each state of the design process. We are currently in year two of the project and have a workflow involving rapid cycles of research, design and development, testing, and implementation.

Interested students

We are looking for a small number of dedicated, enthusiastic UW students at any levels (undergrad to doctoral) to join us to work with teens to design this virtual reality environment.

The DRG participants will meet weekly on Weds 4-5pm. In addition, design sessions with teens will be monthly on Mondays at 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Highline Library in West Seattle (dates to be decided).

You should apply if you are interested in virtual reality design, UX design, and working with teens/mental health.

Specifically, we are looking for students who have a combination of the following skills:

  • Deep understanding of the HCD design process
  • Previous outreach and/or co-design with teens
  • Experience with virtual reality prototyping/development

Please send a cover letter and resume to describing your interest and skills you would bring to the project. Applications will be accepted until 9/15 and accepted students will be notified no later than 9/16.

Dr. Björling's Research Group archive