Auburn robotics team excels in NASA LUNABOTICS Challenge

Published: Aug 10, 2021 9:00 AM

By Virginia Speirs

The Auburn University Robotic Mining Challenge Team recently placed 12th in the NASA RMC LUNABOTICS Challenge, an annual competition offering students practical experience in the full engineering lifecycle.

This year’s competition included more than 50 teams from across the country which were tasked with designing, building and operating an autonomous robot able to traverse a simulated off-world terrain and excavating simulated lunar soil.

For Auburn’s team, the challenge presented an extra dimension of difficulty.

“Due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, our team moved into a new lab space, designed and built an entirely new rover,” said team adviser Chad Rose, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. "They then held their own against teams carrying over half a design from previous years."

Led by club president Theresa Hardin and mechanical engineering seniors Jack Monaghan, Omar Zuaiter, John Luranc and Jack Kerby, the team relied extensively on the leadership of Kyle Schulze, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and the robotics expertise of Thaddeus A. Roppel, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, to develop a presentation demonstrating a completely redesigned rover chassis and digging mechanism.

“These engineers should be proud of their performance on a national stage and the infrastructure they've built for future teams,” Rose said. “Dr. Schulze, Dr. Roppel and I look forward to competing again next year.”

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591
An autonomous robot built by the Auburn University Robotic Mining Challenge Team.

An autonomous robot built by the Auburn University Robotic Mining Challenge Team.

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