Engineering majors take on the Mars Rover Challenge

Of the 120 projects featured during Florida Tech’s Northrop Grumman Science and Engineering Design Showcase, a team of engineering majors took home the Northrop Grumman award for their Mars Rover Project.

The team spent almost a year on their senior design project with the goal of competing in the 2015 University Rover Challenge (URC) in Hanksville, Utah, a robotic competition for college students. This was the first time a Florida Tech team competed.

Mars Rover Challenges Engineering Majors

The teams had to build a rover that would compete in a series of four tasks and be judged on its performance.

The tasks included:

  • The Sample Return Task, where the rover had to collect 25 grams of soil and perform a basic science evaluation of the sample and take several pictures of the sample. T
  • The Astronaut Assistance Task, where the rover collected a tool, such as a hammer or screwdriver, and deliver them to multiple locations, which are given by GPS coordinates.
  • The Equipment Servicing Task, where the rover performs maintenance on a system with pipes, hoses, and valves.
  • The Terrain Traversing Task, where the rover traverses over rough terrain including boulder patches and steep inclines or declines.

Project-Based Learning

mars rover challenge
Original design sketch

The students had drawbacks and challenges throughout the design and building process, including when they had to make the rover “lose weight” because of weight requirements, where they changed the building materials to light carbon fiber.

The team also took a chance on innovation, deciding to build a large Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to complete the tasks.

“This is a new take on the competition because in previous years, no one has actively used their UAV to compete just for surveillance, if they had a UAV at all, because they aren’t required,” said Alejandra Dominguez, a team member, in a blog post about the project.

The team was divided into groups to work on different parts of the rover. On the rover section was Kirill Martusevich, Andrew Poe, John Bohanon and Niket Ghelani. On the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was Brock Hedlund, Gianmarco Casiraghi and Isaac Spence. On the Robotic Arm was Megan Bresnahan, James Copeland and Alejandra Dominguez. On Controls was Scotty Ward, Jeffrey Miller, Alexander Troshchenko, Armando Rolins, Kendrick Buchala and Wesley Sanders, who was also the Chief Financial Officer. The team leaders were Christopher Zarlenga for the mechanical portion and Tiziano Bernard for the aerospace portion.

Check out the video below to learn more


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