JBU Students Succeed at NASA Competition

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JBU students Marshall Nicholson, Mike Anthes, Susanna Whittaker (front), Billy Strnad and David Penner with their NASA awards.

Siloam Springs, Arkansas (June 14, 2011) - John Brown University’s lunabotics team received first place in the “Systems Engineering Paper” category at NASA’s second annual Lunabotics Mining Competition held May 23-28.  Of the 70 teams registered for the competition at Kennedy Space Center, JBU finished in ninth place for the total amount of lunar dirt collected and deposited.

“The team should be very proud of this accomplishment,” said Will Holmes, associate professor of engineering and team advisor. “The team received a perfect 20 out of 20 points possible on the paper, and this result is a direct testament to the outstanding job of engineering design, analysis and management the team demonstrated throughout the project.”

The Lunabotics Mining Competition is a university-level competition designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).Through this competition, NASA is exposed to innovative lunar excavation concepts from STEM students that could ultimately be applied to actual lunar excavation devices.

JBU students spent the 2010-11 school year designing, building and testing the robot for the competition. The remote controlled or autonomous excavator was required to deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar simulant within 15 minutes. The lunabot needed to withstand the abrasive characteristics of the lunar environment, adhere to the weight and size limitations of the lunabot required by NASA and have the ability to be controlled from an off-site location.

In preparation for the trip to Florida, the team took the robot to local schools to demonstrate and test its capabilities.

This is the second year that JBU has participated in the NASA Lunabotics competition. Funding for the lunabot was provided by Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, NASA and JBU.

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