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University of Evansville, Ind., Students Rocket to First Place in College Division of NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race
04.05.08
 
Angela Storey
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
256-544-0034
angela.d.storey@nasa.gov

News release: 08-042


Student racers from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind., speed to victory in the college division of NASA's 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Student innovators from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind., sped past 23 teams from around the globe to win the college division of NASA's 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race today at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

The Evansville team posted the day's fastest race time, completing the harrowing course -- which simulates surface conditions found on the moon -- in just 4 minutes and 25 seconds.

Finishing in the top three along with Evansville were second-place winners from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and third-place racers representing Canada's Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.

NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by the original lunar rover designed by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. A hardy, lightweight exploration vehicle, the first rover trundled across the moon's surface during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, and continued to chart new lunar territory during two subsequent Apollo lunar missions.

Student racers faced challenges similar to those overcome by Apollo-era rover engineers. Last October, the student teams began designing their own buggies, capable of withstanding the challenges of the course: craters, gullies and ridges made of plywood and tires and covered with a realistic layer of gravel and sand.

The Marshall Center presented the first-place team with a trophy depicting NASA's original lunar rover, and gave plaques and certificates to the two runners-up. The first-place team also received $5,700 in cash from Northrop Grumman Corp. Individuals on all three winning teams received commemorative medals and other prizes.

The "Most Original Design" award was presented to Delhi College of Engineering Team I racers from Delhi, India. The award for "Best Design" went to Pittsburg State University in Pittsburgh, Kan., for best solving engineering problems associated with traversing the lunar surface. The annual "Spirit Award" was presented to the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Middle Tennessee State University Team I from Murfreesboro, Tenn., was awarded "Most Unique Buggy" in the college division, and tied with Delhi College of Engineering Team II for NASA's "Safety Systems" award, which honors the safest approach to building, testing and racing a moonbuggy. Middle Tennessee State's Team I earned a third award – the annual "Crash and Burn" prize for the racers that endure the most spectacular vehicle breakdown.

A special "Pits Crew Award" for ingenuity and persistence in overcoming problems during the race was won by the team from Ohio State University in Columbus, which also earned the 2008 "Rookie Award" for the fastest course completion time among newcomers. The "Most Improved" award went to competitors from the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

In the high school division race April 4, Erie High School in Erie, Kan., outraced 21 teams to win with a time of 3 minutes and 17 seconds. The second- and third-place high school teams both hailed from the Huntsville Center for Technology.

"Once again, we're amazed and inspired by the ingenuity and energy of our participating teams," said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Marshall Center's Academic Affairs Office, which organizes the moonbuggy race each year. "This race is a great example of how NASA's educational initiatives can inspire and motivate new generations to carry on the nation's journey of discovery, to the moon and onward into the solar system."

"We look forward to 2009 and the next edition of NASA's Great Moonbuggy Race," Rowan added. "We expect many of these teams back -- bringing them another step toward becoming the professional scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists of tomorrow."

Other 2008 college and university competitors, listed alphabetically by state, were Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Ala.; the University of Alabama in Huntsville; McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.; Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y.; Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio; Cameron University in Lawton, Okla.; the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao; Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville; two teams from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn.; a second team from Middle Tennessee State University ; and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The 2008 race is sponsored by NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. Primary corporate sponsorship is provided by Northrop Grumman Corp., The Boeing Company and Teledyne Brown Engineering, all of Huntsville. Other contributors include the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; ATK Launch Systems, Inc.; Huntsville's CBS affiliate WHNT-TV; ITT Corporation; Jacobs Engineering Science Technical Service Group; Stanley Associates; Science Applications International Corp.; the Tennessee Valley chapter of the System Safety Society Inc.; the United Space Alliance, LLC; and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

For more information on the April 4 high school division winners, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2008/08-041.html


For more event details, race rules and information on the course, visit:

http://moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov


For information about other NASA education programs, visit:

http://education.nasa.gov


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