Mines News

Release Date Friday, May 27, 2016

Moonrockers Robot among Top 10 at NASA Competition

RAPID CITY, S.D. (May 27, 2016) – The “Moonrockers” lunar robot from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology placed in the top 10 at a collegiate competition held at NASA Kennedy Space Center.

The multidisciplinary South Dakota Mines student team placed 10th overall among a field of 45 qualifying teams at the 7th annual NASA Robotic Mining Competition. The team captured 2nd place in the Caterpillar Autonomy Award competition.

NASA is interested in the mineral oxides contained within regolith, or lunar soil, as a means to generate oxygen to support future habitats and create rocket fuel. Student robots were challenged to collect as much simulated lunar or Martian regolith as possible within a 10-minute period.

The two main goals this year for the team were to speed up the delivery system and implement an autonomous operation.

The Moonrockers team was led this year by Devin Kroeber, an electrical engineering major, and included the following members: Jacob Green (mechanical engineering), Charles Hartman (mechanical engineering), Samuel Hill (mechanical engineering), Daniel Hodges (mechanical engineering), Alexander Muchow (computer science), Dakotah Rusley (computer engineering), Joree Sandin (mechanical engineering). An additional team comprised of Erik Figuracion (mechanical engineering), Mathew Gordon (mechanical engineering), Adam Holzer (mechanical engineering) and Jonathan Stelze (mechanical engineering) focused on developing an icy regolith system to collect larger pieces buried deep under the surface for consideration next year by the team.

The Moonrockers are advised by Jason Ash, Ph.D., mechanical engineering; Charles Tolle, Ph.D., electrical and computer engineering; and Moonrockers alumnus Zach Buechler (computer engineering). Jeff McGough, Ph.D., math and computer science, and Lowell Kolb, electrical and computer engineering, also provided assistance to team members.

Sponsors for the team were South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, Misumi, RoboteQ, alumnus Tim Lux (mechanical engineering), Burns & McDonnell, Cliffs, Dales Tires, Aquarius, Power Grid Engineering, Dakota High Voltage & Maintenance and the Student Association Finance.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Fran LeFort, (605) 394-6082, Fran.LeFort@sdsmt.edu