April 25, 2007
|Morningside students Josh Phipps and Liz Kelly use pedal power to propel their moonbuggy during competition.
An engineering design team from Morningside College received the Pits Crew Award during NASA’s 14th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race competition, held April 13-14 at U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The six-person team of students researched, designed, and built a human-powered vehicle that addresses a series of engineering challenges similar to those faced by the original Moonbuggy team. The special Pits Crew Award recognized excellence in ingenuity, resourcefulness, and leadership in overcoming problems during the race.
The Morningside team was one of 22 college teams from the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada who competed in the college division of the event.
Each team in the competition was responsible for building their own engineering test model buggy, which carried two students over a half-mile of simulated lunar terrain. The course drivers, chosen from each team, were also required to assemble the vehicle during competition. The top three winning teams in the high school and college divisions were those having the shortest total times in assembling their moonbuggies and traversing the terrain course.
“While working on this project, not only have I learned about the mechanics of such a vehicle, but more importantly, the dynamics of working with and leading a team,” said team member Elizabeth Kelly, a senior from Falls City, Neb.
In addition to Kelly, other Morningside College team members, along with their hometowns, included Joshua Phipps, freshman from Larchwood, Iowa; Josh Rensink, freshman from Sioux Center, Iowa; Brooke Sloup, sophomore from Omaha, Neb.; Eric Roggatz, junior from Anthon, Iowa; and Danny Vennerberg, freshman from Stanton, Iowa. Faculty advisor to the team was Dr. Gary Turner, assistant professor of mathematical sciences at Morningside.
First place winner in the college division was the Rochester Institute of Technology in NewYork. Second place went to the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao. Pittsburg State University in Kansas finished in third place.
The moonbuggy racing tradition began in 1994 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. The event is inspired by the original lunar rover engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, whose creation rumbled across the moon during the last three Apollo missions in the early 1970s. The hands-on experience is designed to inspire students to pursue careers in math, science and engineering.