Utah Student Robotics Team

The Utah Student Robotics team took second place in the Systems Engineering Paper competition at the 2023 NASA Lunabotics competition. This event challenges college teams to design and built prototype robots to complete tasks in a lunar-like environment. Since 2010, this has been focused on robotic mining of ice from the dark sides of craters on the moon.

The U’s team consisted of 17 students: Andrew Tolton, Chandler Millar, Daniel Robinson, Najman Husaini, Creed McCord, Hunter Strathman, Landen Hughes, Bradley Lund, Nathan Bruns, Rylan Metcalf, Jeremy Clark, Minh Le, Daniel Pruschki, Luke Phillips, Joseph Gilsoul, Simon Padgen, and Tomas Hammond. The team designed, fabricated, assembled, and operated a Lunabot using systems engineering. To do this, the team had to create a project management plan and also wrote a systems engineering paper.

“A big part of the competition is systems engineering,” said Andrew Tolton, system’s engineering lead and vice president. “NASA wants teams to follow the systems engineering process to build a well-planned and executed robot and asked teams to submit a paper documenting their work through the year.”

Starting with last year’s plan, the team took a critical look at their feedback and experience from 2022 and built off that for 2023. Design of the robot considered system integration from the beginning of the process, which allowed the team to consider how each sub-system would be combined to form a complete system. They added staggered deadlines and made sure to have a complete mechanical sub-system early, which gave them time to move on to electrical, then software integration.

“This gave us flexibility so that if things went wrong, and they did, we could pivot,” said Tolton. “These are the things we emphasized in our paper.”

Since 2016 the Utah Student Robotics team has been participating in the Lunabotics competition and has a history of success in the competition. The team hopes to build on the success of what they did right this time to do even better next year at the new terraforming challenge.

“If you’re interested in joining, we’re looking for new members,” said Tolton. “It doesn’t matter what your major is or what experience you have, we are building a robot and would love to have more people participate!”

You can find the Utah Student Robotics team on discord. Feel free to join and learn more.