The MTSU Engineering Technology Experimental Vehicles Program moon buggy team’s nine-month quest for success continues Friday and Saturday in Huntsville, Ala.
The nine-member team, led by captains Ryan Miller of Murfreesboro and Brian Julian of Spring Hill, Tenn., has two moon buggies competing in the 20th annual Great Moonbuggy Race on a course designed by officials at Marshall Space Flight Center.
A newly designed and built moon buggy finished Friday’s run with a time of 5 minutes, 30 seconds, said program adviser Dr. Saeed Foroudastan. Co-drivers were junior Devin Raines of Murfreesboro and senior Kevin Conner of Norman, Okla.
“Their time is excellent,” Foroudastan said. “The obstacles are much more difficult this year.”
“The judges and everybody have been impressed (with the new moon buggy),” Foroudastan added. “It’s the best-looking (moon buggy) and best design in the whole contest.” He added that it expects to receive a design award.
Foroudastan said the team plans on “making minor repairs” between now and the scheduled second run on Saturday, and believes they “can shave one-and-a-half minutes off (Friday’s) time.” NASA officials told teams severe weather could factor into the running of the event Saturday.
MTSU’s second entry did not finish its run. Drivers Sadie Swaney of Clarksville, Tenn., and Central Magnet School student Austin Tipton of Murfreesboro went past the 8-minute mark, exceeding the time limit allowed by judges.
Other MTSU team members include senior Joseph Honea of Tullahoma, Tenn., senior Mike Myers of Greeneville, Tenn., junior Steven Chaput of Manchester, Tenn., and junior Thomas Cox of Nashville.
Provost Brad Bartel and College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer inspected the new moon buggy and the program’s Baha competition entry on April 25 just before the group left for Huntsville.
“I am impressed,” Bartel said. “This is amazing. … You guys are a winner in my book no matter the outcome.”
“It’s everything that education is all about,” Fischer said. “It’s transformational science, where it’s taken from the lab to being used.”
MTSU’s moon buggy teams have placed as high as fourth overall and earned two safety awards since entering the competition in 2003.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)