High hopes and great expectations are how 14 MTSU students left Murfreesboro Thursday (April 10), heading for Huntsville, Ala., and the two-day NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, previously known as the Great Moonbuggy Race.
“We hope to go down and place first overall this year,” said team captain Ryan Miller of Chattanooga, Tenn., making a reference to the team’s third-place finish in 2013 against international competition while finishing first in the U.S. “We expect the new moon buggy to perform well.”
MTSU Experimental Vehicles Program adviser Saeed Foroudastan agrees.
“This is the most dedicated team we’ve ever had,” Foroudastan said. “They are innovative. They put in a perfect design. They finished the new moon buggy one month in advance, which allowed time for practice.”
Nearly 90 student teams from 19 states, Puerto Rico and four other countries will compete Friday and Saturday, April 11-12. The event is tied to NASA’s plans to explore destinations across the solar system in years to come. NASA will stream the event live via UStream (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc) and NASA television (http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv).
The event challenges high school, college and university students to design, construct, test and race lightweight, human-powered rovers capable of performing in the demanding environments to be explored by future voyagers.
The competition is designed to teach students to solve practical design and engineering problems and demonstrates NASA's continuing commitment to inspire new generations of scientists, engineers, technicians and astronauts.
MTSU will have two entries: Team 2 with a new, two-person moon buggy nicknamed “The Beast” and Team 1 with a modified version of the 2013 entry nicknamed “The Model T.”