UND engineering students scored top scores at the 2016 NASA robotics competition
UND engineering attain scored top scores at the 2016 NASA robotics competition
The University of North Dakota recently competed with more than 50 universities from around the United States in a NASA robotics competition.
The competition took place May 16-21 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. UND took first in outreach and second in presentation and demonstration. UND’s team placed fifth overall.
The objective was to design and build a robot capable of collecting and depositing Martian dirt. This raw material will become a high priority for manned space missions, as the oxygen contained within the regolith can be extracted for life support. It also can be used as an oxidizer for propulsion. The goals of the competition are to develop solutions that NASA can use to autonomously mine the Martian dirt as well as generate student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The UND team comprises 10 students advised by UND Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jeremiah Neubert and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Naima Kaabouch. The students involved were Nicholas Allen, Buffalo, Minn.; Ryan Ahrens, Little Falls, Minn.; David Laurion, Woodbury, Minn.; Bradley Messer, Richardton, N.D.; Jerod Nelson, Minot, N.D.; Erik Peterman, Apple Valley, Minn.; Daniel Smith, Grand Forks; Jack Heichel, East Grand Forks; Brian Koenig, Ridgecrest, Calif.; Charles Foxworthy, and Travis Winter.
The team designed a robot with a traction control system capable of mining icy regolith.
The competition also required the teams to conduct outreach activities for K-12 students. UND’s goal was to foster a diverse future generation of engineers and scientists. Students were taught about the opportunities in STEM fields, applications of robotic space mining, the robotics competition and NASA’s goals for missions to Mars. The robotics team reached out to more than 1,800 kids from 24 cities across North Dakota and Minnesota.
Outreach through social media reached more than 5,000 people from all over the world.
This UND project was sponsored by the North Dakota Space Consortium, NASA EPSCoR, Cirrus Aircraft, Retrax, PS Doors, 3M, LM WindPower, AE2S, Technology Applications Group, UND Mechanical Engineering Department, UND College of Engineering and Mines Dean’s Office, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and Student Organization Funding Agency.