HAMMOND | For the third consecutive year, a team of Purdue University Calumet engineering students recorded a top five finish at NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race.
Mechanical engineering majors Cody Eitzen of Munster and Maria Frebis of Murfreesboro, Tenn. drove their Purdue Calumet buggy to a fifth place finish in the 48-field College Division of the 20th annual competition in 5 minutes, 14 seconds. A second Purdue Calumet moonbuggy driven by Dustin Atwood and Andrea David, both of Crown Point, placed 20th.
Additionally, for the second consecutive year, Purdue Calumet won the Featherweight Award for entering the lightest buggy to complete the course in 10 minutes or less.
The international competition challenges teams of college and high school students to design, build and race a lightweight, human-powered vehicle similar to the Apollo lunar rovers developed by NASA four decades ago for use by U.S. astronauts during moon exploration trips.
During the race, two students, male and female, power and maneuver their moonbuggy over an approximately half-mile course comprised of obstacles—craters, pits and gravel mounds—that simulate the same lunar surface conditions and challenges Apollo-era astronauts and engineers experienced during the 1960s. The student teams seek to record the fastest combined time for vehicle assembly and traveling the course, while minimizing on-course time penalties.
“In designing, constructing, testing and racing a moonbuggy vehicle, our students do exactly what an engineer might be expected to do in the real world,” Purdue Calumet Professor of Mechanical Engineering and faculty advisor Harvey Abramowitz said. “What they found along this journey is that none of the steps they took is quite as simple and straight forward as they may have expected.”
A new twist to the competition this year, buggies could include a telemetry system. Electrical engineering students Bryan Lopez of Griffith and Clayton Yankauskas of Lafayette designed the Purdue Calumet system, which the students also used as their senior design project under the guidance of Professor Don Gray.
Other Purdue Calumet engineering students assisting at the competition were Daniel Bonner of Chicago, Shaun Andres of St. John and RJ Gladstone of Dyer.
Among others assisting on campus were mechanical engineering technology students Trevor Fishback of Schererville; Aaron Kolb of Forest Park, Ill.; Daniela Ramirez of East Chicago; and Mike Trnka of Gary, along with School of Technology Laboratory Administrator Rick Rickerson.