Eleven University at Buffalo students (making up a team called the “Space Bulls”) have been given the opportunity to collaborate on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) and the National Institute of Aerospace’s (NIA) Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage Exploration Robo-Ops (RASCAL) competition. As one of approximately five teams still in the running across the nation in this competition, their acceptance is stunning in and of itself.
“This is our first year participating; other teams like University of Utah and University of Pennsylvania have been participating in this competition for very long. In fact, their rovers are ready by now, and we are still in the preliminary round,” said Kumar Vishwajeet, a Master of Science (MS) student in mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Space Bull in charge of the team’s controls. “So, this is a lot of new experience for us. It will be a very tough competition, but we are learning many new things.”
The contest challenges university teams to design and construct a “planetary rover and demonstrate its capability to perform a series of competitive tasks at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Rock Yard in Houston, Texas,” according to the competition’s official website at nianet.org/RASCAL/RoboOps/index.aspx.