Engineering students have strong showing at annual NASA competition


The 2014 University of Akron Robotics team at the NASA Robotic Mining Competition

When NASA hosted its fifth annual Robotic Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Center last week, a UA team from the College of Engineering, along with its robot, CHRISTEE, was one of only 37 teams to participate.

For the competition, the student teams were asked to design and construct a robot that would mine, transport and deposit regolith (sand) in a simulated Martian environment. CHRISTEE was one of only seven robots to mine regolith autonomously. 

NASA expects to benefit from the competition by encouraging university students to develop innovative excavation concepts that it might be able to apply to excavation devices or payloads. 

"The UA team was a strong competitor this year and reached the podium five times," says Tom Hartley, a professor of electrical and chemical engineering (ECE). He is an advisor for "Team CHRISTEE," along with Max Fightmaster, an ECE technologist.

Here are the results:

  • Systems engineering paper -- second place
  • Technical presentation -- third place
  • Community outreach -- third place
  • Team spirit -- second place
  • Pit pride -- first place
  • Mining -- 12th place

Team members attending the competition were Ben Chaffee, team lead; Deboshi Sadhukhan, co-team lead; Richard Johnson, Zac Kilburn, Igor Vinograd, Duncan Campbell, Frandy Cador, Keith Martin, Jack Wolfe III, Christopher Towbridge, Dana Cressman, Dominic Bruno, Reed Jacobsen and Samir Saab.