One MTSU team placed in the top 10 in the world while a second team earned two major technical awards at the 2017 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge.

Held March 31-April 1 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the event requires student teams to design, build, test and race human-powered rovers, driven by one male and one female.

The obstacles throughout the nearly three-quarter-mile course simulate terrain found on Mars, as well as other planets, moons and asteroids throughout the solar system.

Assembly at the start/finish line, the time to negotiate the course and incurred penalties factor in each team’s final time.

MTSU Team 2, which is nicknamed “The Beast” because it has competed and performed well previously, placed ninth overall and was sixth best in the U.S. during the competition. Metal chain issues slowed its best race time.

With a new rover, MTSU Team 1 received the first-time Drive Train Technology Challenge Award and also the Safety System Award.

Saeed Foroudastan, adviser for the Experimental Vehicles Program teams, said he was “proud of all of our students” at the competition.

Team 1 had been working on the new rover — the design and building in the machine shop — since the conclusion of the April 2016 competition. Team 2, which had a modified rover, began its efforts at the start of the spring semester in January.

“They worked two days nonstop to finish the new rover,” Foroudastan added. “We were one of only a few schools where just the students worked on the rover.”

Foroudastan said race officials told him the new rover “was the best design and both were the best-looking rovers” at the event.

The University of Puerto Rico-Humacao Team 1 earned first place in the university division based on its penalty-free run in 4 minutes, 21 seconds.

Rhode Island School of Design (6:44) and Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (7:14) placed second and third, respectively. MTSU Team 2, which received two minutes in penalties, finished in 9:28, just ahead of the Tennessee Tech Team 1 (10:07) entry.

MTSU Team 1 placed 26th overall. Once the body was assembled in the machine shop, team members encountered issues with new wheels days before the race and also with a rubber belt during the competition. It finished in 11:27, but encountered more than 34 minutes in penalties.

Murfreesboro’s Central Magnet School teams placed ninth and 25th, respectively, in the high school competition.

For more about the rover challenge, visit https://www.nasa.gov/roverchallenge/home/index.html.
For results, visit https://www.nasa.gov/roverchallenge/teams/index.html and click on the “college display report.”


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