Newswise — One MTSU student engineering team placed in the top 10 in the world while a second team earned two major technical awards at the 2017 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge.
Held March 31-April 1 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the event requires student teams to design, build, test and race human-powered rovers, driven by one male and one female.
The obstacles throughout the nearly three-quarter-mile course simulate terrain found on Mars as well as other planets, moons and asteroids throughout the solar system.
Assembly at the start/finish line, time to negotiate the course and incurred penalties factor in each team’s final time.
MTSU Team 2, which has earned the nickname “The Beast” because of its previous successful performances, placed ninth overall and was sixth best in the United States during the competition. Metal chain issues slowed its best race time.
With a new rover, MTSU Team 1 received the first-time Drive Train Technology Challenge Award and the Safety System Award.
Dr. Saeed Foroudastan, adviser for the Experimental Vehicles Program teams, said he was “proud of all of our students” at the competition.
Team 1 had been designing and building the new rover in the machine shop since the conclusion of the April 2016 competition. Team 2, which had a modified rover, began its efforts this January.
“They worked two days nonstop to finish the new rover,” Foroudastan added. “We were one of only a few schools where just the students worked on the rover.”
Foroudastan said race officials told him the new rover “was the best design and both were the best-looking rovers” at the event.
The University of Puerto Rico-Humacao Team 1 earned first place in the university division based on its penalty-free run in 4 minutes, 21 seconds.
Rhode Island School of Design earned second place with a 6:44 time, and Puerto Rico-Mayaguez placed third with 7:14. MTSU Team 2, which was penalized two minutes, finished in 9:28, just ahead of the Tennessee Tech Team 1’s 10:07 entry.
MTSU Team 1 placed 26th overall. Once the body was assembled in the machine shop, team members encountered issues with new wheels days before the race as well as with a rubber belt during the competition. It finished in 11:27, but encountered more than 34 minutes in penalties.
Murfreesboro’s Central Magnet School teams placed ninth and 25th, respectively, in the high school competition.
For more about the rover challenge, visit www.nasa.gov/roverchallenge.
For results, visit www.nasa.gov/roverchallenge/teams and click on the “college display report.”