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NDSU students win NASA robotic mining awards

An NDSU team of engineering and computer science students excelled during the recent NASA Robotic Mining Competition held at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Team members included 11 students from NDSU and a student from James Madison University. The team took home several honors:

• IEEE Judges’ Innovation Award

• Slide Presentation and Demonstration Award, first place

• Caterpillar Autonomy Award, second place

• On-site Mining Award, second place

The annual competition, held May 14-18, attracted teams from more than 50 colleges and universities. Students are asked to design and build mining robots that could navigate challenging simulated off-world terrain. During the competition, the robots excavated regolith, or gravel, and returned the material to a collector bin to simulate a mining mission on another planet.

“The management of the project took a lot of cues from experiences myself and other students gained from previous internships. We tried to structure of the project similarly to a real-life engineering project using an agile software development methodology and product data management software,” said Noah Curfman, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from Fargo who is the team leader. “The amount the team was able to accomplish because of well-thought out project organization was incredible. The experiences I gained from working within a large, multi-disciplinary group structured like a real engineering team are invaluable.”

The team members, in addition to Curfman, are:

• Samuel Fehringer, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Duluth, Minnesota

• Jacob Huesman, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Lake Park, Minnesota

• Josh Huesman, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Lake Park, Minnesota

• Jessie Lee, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering from New London, Minnesota

• Haiming Lou, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Eden Prairie, Minnesota

• Nicole Maguire, a senior majoring in computer science at James Madison University

• Marc Olberding, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Rochester, Minnesota

• Austin Oltmanns, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Dickinson, North Dakota

• Elliott Stone, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Bismarck, North Dakota

• Jeremy Warzecka, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering from St. Joseph, Minnesota

• Samuel Willenbring, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering from Perham, Minnesota

The team’s faculty adviser is Majura Selekwa, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

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