Hoosiers Excel in NASA Challenge

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One of the Purdue teams took 1st place in the university division. (photo courtesy NASA/MSFC/Fred Deaton) One of the Purdue teams took 1st place in the university division. (photo courtesy NASA/MSFC/Fred Deaton)

Teams of Indiana students took home top honors at the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge in Alabama. Teams from the Purdue University Northwest Calumet campus and Greenfield Central High School were winners.

The goal of the challenge was to design, construct and race human-powered rover vehicles, which can perform in challenging terrains similar to uninhabited planets, moons, asteroids and comets. The teams had to assemble and race their rovers through a 0.7-mile course.

Purdue Northwest had two teams at the challenge. Team 1 recorded the fastest combined assembly and race time of six minutes and one second. The team also took first place in the Sample Retrieval Challenge, in which soil, liquid and rock samples are collected while the rover is being driven. In total, the team scored $3,250 in awards.

Purdue's second team won the Neil Armstrong Best Design Award, which is given for the "best technical approach in responding to the engineering challenge of navigating the extraterrestrial terrain."

"I am exceptionally proud of this year’s group of students, but also the students before them who competed in the NASA competition since Purdue Calumet began participating in 2003," said Harvey Abramowitz professor of mechanical engineering. "Our success this year is linked to the experience and knowledge base provided through the years by our previous student competitors."

In the high school division, one of Greenfield Central High School's two teams took second place with a combined assembly and race time of seven minutes and 35 seconds.

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