UND engineering robotics team takes first, fourth at 2015 NASA Robotic Mining Competition

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News Article

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College of Engineering & Mines


Once again, a team of University of North Dakota student engineers scored top marks in the 2015 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Robotic Mining Competition.

The UND team took fourth place, competing against 50 other teams from universities across the nation, in the 2015 Mining Competition. UND also took first place in the outreach activity component, which took place at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

This is the third year the UND team scored top awards in this NASA competition. The team got a first place in 2011 and a second place in 2013.

The competition’s objective was to design and build a robot capable of collecting and depositing lunar dirt. UND’s team constructed the only robot capable of mining icy regolith, with a traction control system that made it one of the best driving robots in the competition

The competition also requires the teams to conduct outreach activities for K-12 students to increase the public’s understanding of NASA’s importance and to generate interest in math and science among K-12 students. The UND team excelled in its outreach activities, which included presentations, mentoring and providing learning activities to elementary, middle and high school students. Some of the venues for these activities were the FIRST Lego League and NATURE program, an outreach program that serves tribal schools and colleges in North Dakota.

The team included electrical engineering studentsDustin Rudnick, Anamoose, N.D.; Jacob Berry, Cambridge, Minn.; and Tate Messmer, Mesa, Ariz.; in addition to mechanical engineering students Nicholas Allen, Buffalo, Minn.; Austin Cote, Bottineau, N.D.; Kyle Kunke, Osseo, Minn.; Pushkara Jayasekera, Hokandara, Sri Lanka; Anne Mayer, Fargo; Alec Redmann, Bismarck; Jordan Senff, Grand Forks; and Luke Spray. Gonvick, Minn. Faculty advisors for the team are Naima Kaabouch with UND’s Department of Electrical Engineering, along with Jeremiah Neubert and Surojit Gupta with UND’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The UND project was sponsored by North Dakota Space Consortium, UND School of Engineering and Mines Dean’s Office, Department of Electrical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost and Student Organization Funding Agency (SOFA), and a number of private companies, including Emerson.