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NASA Announces Winners of 2021 Human Exploration Rover Challenge

People standing
Universidad Nacional de Colombia won the overall college division. Credits: Universidad Nacional de Colombia

High school and college students from around the U.S. and world have spent the last eight months designing, building, and testing their creations for NASA’s 27th annual Human Exploration Rover Challenge – one of seven NASA Artemis Student Challenges. The winners were announced during a virtual awards ceremony April 16.

HERC tasks U.S. and international student teams to design, engineer, and test a human-powered rover on a course that simulates the terrain found on rocky bodies in the solar system. The teams also must perform mission tasks while negotiating the course, including sample retrievals and spectrographic analysis.

People sitting and standing
Parish Episcopal School Team 1 won the overall high school division. Credits: Parish Episcopal School Team

Despite the cancellation of on-site competition activities at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the high school and college teams competed in multiple design, documentation, and presentation categories, and were recognized for their successful efforts.

“The challenges you faced with this competition go beyond anything we’ve seen before, from designing the wheels and mission tools to executing mission requirements like sample retrievals and deploying instruments,” said Marshall Center Director Jody Singer. “To all of the students who took on these tasks and participated in Rover Challenge, we salute you and congratulate you on your accomplishments.”

“The students really had to think outside the box to figure out how to develop these robust vehicles during a global pandemic,” said Miranda Fike, activity lead for the challenge at Marshall. “These members of the Artemis Generation rose to the occasion and delivered their reviews, presentations, designs, and videos without fail.”

Awards were presented in nine categories.

Overall Winner

  • High School Division:
    • 1st place: Parish Episcopal School Team 1, Dallas, Texas
    • 2nd place: Stillwater Area High School, Stillwater, Minnesota
    • 3rd place: Navonmesh Prasar Foundation, Bhubaneswar Odisha, India
  • College/University Division:
    • 1st place: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota, Colombia
    • 2nd place: Tecnológico de Monterrey, Xochitepec, Mexico
    • 3rd place: University of Alabama in Huntsville Team 1

Project Review Award

  • High School Division: Parish Episcopal School Team 1
  • College/University Division: Campbell University, Buies Creek, North Carolina

Task Challenge Award

  • High School Division: Liceo Cientifico Dr. Miguel Canela Lázaro, Salcedo, Dominican Republic
  • College/University Division: Trine University, Angola, Indiana

Safety Award

  • High School Division: Academy of Arts, Careers, & Technology, Reno, Nevada
  • College/University Division: Amity University, Noida, Utter Pradesh, India

Ingenuity Award

  • High School Division: Stillwater Area High School
  • College/University Division: Campbell University

Phoenix Award

  • High School Division: Academy of Arts, Careers, & Technology
  • College/University Division: KIET Group of Institutions, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Videography Award

  • High School Division: Navonmesh Prasar Foundation
  • College Division: Universidad Catolica Boliviana – La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia

STEM Engagement Award

  • High School Division: Vision Builder Adventures, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • College/University Division: Tecnológico de Monterrey

Social Media Award

  • High School Division: Parish Episcopal School Team 2, Dallas, Texas
  • College/University Division: Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Two students driving a human powered rover
The Universidad Catolica Boliviana San Pablo La Paz team tests their rover as part of this year’s competition. Credits: Universidad Catolica Boliviana La Paz

For more than 25 years, the annual NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge and its sponsors have encouraged student teams from the United States and around the world to push the limits of innovation and imagine what it will take to explore the Moon, Mars, and other worlds.

HERC is managed by the Office of STEM Engagement at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The competition reflects the goals of the Artemis program, which seeks to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon. NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement uses challenges and competitions to further the agency’s goal of encouraging students to pursue degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

For more information about NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge, visit:

For more information about NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges, visit:

Janet Sudnik
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama