MELBOURNE, FLA.—Florida Institute of Technology’s 2013 NASA Lunabotics team took fifth place among 50 international teams from eight countries in the Fourth Annual NASA Lunabotics Mining competition at Kennedy Space Center in May. The team also earned the full complement of 15 points to come in first for the Team Spirit Award.
The university-level competition is designed to engage and retain students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The challenge is for students to design and build a remote-controlled or autonomous excavator, or robot, which can dig and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of simulated moon dust, or regolith, within 10 minutes. Regolith exists not only on Earth’s moon, but also on most planetary bodies such as asteroids, the moons of Mars and on Mars itself.
The team earned 751 points, very close to the 751.5 of fourth-place West Virginia University and not far from the 761 points earned by third-place University of New Hampshire. The team also took first place in an unannounced special event, which was to drive their robot through an obstacle course. This was only the second year that a Florida Tech team entered this competition.
The team earned the Team Spirit Award based on its helpfulness to the other competing teams. With the award came a team plaque, individual certificates and a $500 team scholarship.
Team members were Vincent Scotti Jr. (team lead), Robert Mulligan, Kyle Everly, Devin Peck, Paul Cecil Marley, Erin Owens, Joshua Polly, Robert Ritter III, Anfal Yahya Hathah, Billy Albritton, Codrington Barzey, Scott Fuller and Elie Louesse. The team advisor was Ronnal Reichard, professor of engineering and director of College of Engineering Laboratories.
Universities participated from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Mexico and Poland as well as the United States, with 32 teams competing.