Winners: Engineering skills tested in NASA Moonbuggy Race 2008

Move over sporting events, engineering skills received a high profile as 23 teams competed in the college division of NASA's 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.

04/21/2008


Huntsville, AL – Move over sporting events, engineering skills received a high profile recently as students from the University of Evansville (IN) sped past 23 teams from around the globe to win the college division of

NASA

's 15th annual

Great Moonbuggy Race

earlier this month at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. The effort aims to inspire and recognize those interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

University of Evansville (IN) won the college division of NASA's 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race in April at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.

The team posted the day's fastest race time, four minutes and 25 seconds, completing a course that simulates surface conditions found on the moon. Finishing in the top three were second-place winners from Murray State University in Murray, KY, and third-place racers from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Marshall Center presented the first-place team with a trophy depicting NASA's original lunar rover, and gave plaques and certificates to runners-up. The first-place team received $5,700 from Northrop Grumman Corp. Individuals on winning teams received commemorative medals and prizes.
NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by the lunar rover designed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. A hardy, lightweight exploration vehicle, the first rover trundled across the moon's surface during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, and continued to chart new lunar territory during two Apollo lunar missions. Racers faced challenges similar to those overcome by Apollo rover engineers. Last October, student teams began designing their buggies, capable of withstanding craters, gullies and ridges, made of plywood and tires and covered with a realistic layer of gravel and sand.
Such events aim to fill an anticipated skills gap in engineering and science professions. For related reading from Control Engineering, also see:
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On-the-job training: Kids, engineering, fun


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Help students in the STEM game


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Automated vehicles is among topics covered in a Control Engineering blog

.
In this year’s NASA race, Most Original Design award went to Delhi College of Engineering Team I racers from Delhi, India. Best Design went to Pittsburg State University in Pittsburgh, KS, for solving engineering problems associated with traversing lunar surfaces. The annual Spirit Award was presented to University of Central Florida in Orlando. Middle Tennessee State University Team I from Murfreesboro, TN, won Most Unique Buggy in the college division, tying with Delhi College of Engineering Team II for NASA's Safety Systems award. Middle Tennessee State's Team I earned the annual Crash and Burn prize for racers that endure the most spectacular vehicle breakdown. A Pits Crew Award for ingenuity and persistence in overcoming problems during the race was won by Ohio State University in Columbus, which earned the 2008 Rookie Award for fastest course completion time among newcomers. Most Improved went to competitors from the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
In the high school division race, Erie High School in Erie, KS, outraced 21 teams with a time of three minutes and 17 seconds. Second- and third-place high school teams both came from Huntsville Center for Technology.
"Once again, we're amazed and inspired by the ingenuity and energy of our participating teams," said Tammy Rowan, manager of Marshall Center's Academic Affairs Office, which organizes the race. "This race is a great example of how NASA's educational initiatives can inspire and motivate new generations to carry on the nation's journey of discovery, to the moon and onward into the solar system. We look forward to 2009 and the next edition of NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race. We expect many of these teams back– bringing them another step toward becoming the professional scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technologists of tomorrow."
The 2008 race is sponsored by NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. Primary corporate sponsorship is provided by Northrop Grumman Corp., The Boeing Co., and Teledyne Brown Engineering, all of Huntsville. Contributors include American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; ATK Launch Systems, Inc.; Huntsville's CBS affiliate WHNT-TV; ITT Corporation; Jacobs Engineering Science Technical Service Group; Stanley Associates; Science Applications International Corp.; the Tennessee Valley chapter of the
System Safety Society Inc.; the United Space Alliance, LLC; and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
Other 2008 college and university competitors, listed alphabetically by state, were Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, AL; the University of Alabama in Huntsville; McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA; Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY; Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH; Cameron University in Lawton, OK.; University of Puerto Rico at Humacao; Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville; two teams from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN; a second team from Middle Tennessee State University; and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
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