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Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno, Nev., and University of Puerto Rico at Humacao Win Top Honors at First NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

NASA today declared the winners of the first NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, held April 11-12 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Student racers from the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno, Nev., claimed first place in the high school division; the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao Team 2 won the top prize in the college division.

They raced to victory against 70 high school, college and university teams from 19 states, Puerto Rico, Germany, India, Mexico and Russia. All told, more than 500 students — drivers, engineers and mechanics, plus team advisers and “cheering sections” — took part in the competition.

The winning teams posted the fastest vehicle assembly and race times in their divisions, with the fewest on-course penalties. The team from the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology finished the half-mile course in 3 minutes, 37 seconds. The University of Puerto Rico at Humacao Team 2 finished in 4 minutes, 9 seconds. In addition to the winning trophy, first-place teams received a cash prize of $3,000, courtesy of The Boeing Co. of Huntsville.

Finishing in second place in the high school division was Team 2 from the Vocational High School Teodoro Aguilar Mora in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. In third place was the International Space Education Institute team from Moscow, Russia. Southern Illinois University Carbondale Team 2 won second place in the college division and Team 1 from the school finished in third place. (For a complete list of additional awards for design, most improved and spirit, see below.)

Organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and building on two decades of competitive student innovation in the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race (held in the “Rocket City” from 1994-2013), the new event challenges students to design, build and race lightweight, human-powered roving vehicles, solving technical problems along the way just like NASA engineers must do.

Those NASA engineers are paying attention: Students’ most innovative vehicle and hardware designs could help inform NASA’s own development of rovers and other space transportation systems for future exploration missions across the solar system.

Just as importantly, the experience is designed to provide the future workforce to realize those new missions, inspiring students to pursue careers in the technical “STEM” fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — so crucial to the agency’s endeavors.

The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge is sponsored by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, and organized by the Marshall Center’s Academic Affairs Office. Major corporate sponsors for the race are The Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Aerojet Rocketdyne, Jacobs Engineering ESSSA Group, and Northrop Grumman Corp., all with operations in Huntsville.

Full replays of the race will be available in coming days on the Marshall Center’s official UStream site, where Marshall Center media personnel and television crews provided continuous, streaming coverage of the event:

For more information about the race, visit:

Race enthusiasts are encouraged to follow the annual event via social media channels:

For information about other NASA education programs, visit:

The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

Neil Armstrong Best Design Award (for the best technical approach to solve the engineering problem of navigating the extraterrestrial terrain of the course. The award honors the memory of Apollo 11 astronaut Armstrong, who became the first man on the moon during that historic 1969 mission, and who passed away in 2012):

Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno, Nev.

Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro – Team 2

Technology Challenge Award (for the team which best addresses this year’s unique “wheel technology challenge,” designing an innovative mobility system to aid navigation over the course)

Central Connecticut State University in New Britain – Team 1

Featherweight Award (for the lightest rover on the track):

Academia Menonita Summit Hills in San Juan, Puerto Rico

University of Puerto Rico in Humacao – Team 2

AIAA Telemetry/Electronics Award (for the most innovative onboard data-gathering and delivery system):

Technologico de Monterrey Campus Cuernavaca from Xochitpec, Mexico – Team 1

Frank Joe Sexton Memorial Pit Crew Award (for ingenuity and persistence in overcoming problems during the race. Sexton, a NASA welder who mentored numerous welders and engineers among the Marshall workforce, worked on the original lunar rover and numerous other space vehicles until his death in 2000):

Parish Episcopal School in Dallas, Tx.

Ohio State University in Columbus

Crash and Burn Award (for enduring and recovering from the worst vehicle breakdown):

Rhode Island School of Design in Providence

Spirit Award (for overall team energy, enthusiasm and camaraderie):

Pana High School in Pana, Ill.

Jesco Von Puttkamer International Team Award (for the fastest team hailing from outside the United States. The late, German-born Von Puttkamer worked at Marshall from 1962-1974, supporting the Apollo moon missions and the Skylab and Space Shuttle programs. He was instrumental in introducing international teams to NASA student racing in the early 2000s):

International Space Education Institute – Team Russia from Moscow

International Space Education Institute – Team Germany from Leipzig

Best Report Award (technical documentation of the equipment and procedures used in design, build, test and the results obtained)

University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez

System Safety Award (for the team exemplifying best safety practices)

SVKM NMIMS Mukesh Patel School of Technology in Mumbai, India

Angela Storey
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.