Prescott Campus


NASA Digs Embry-Riddle’s Moon-Mining Robotics

Prescott, AZ., June 9, 2011


LAR-E Team: Nick Leslie, Jesse Gang, Matt Bender, Bryce Fox, Aaron Wilson, Carson Roy-Thill, Dr. John Nafziger, Bryan Bollig, Jacob Pratt, Tyler Chang

Moon-mining robots engineered by two teams of Embry-Riddle students scooped up awards, judges’ praise, and tons of experience for their creators at NASA’s second annual Lunabotics Competition, held May 23-28 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The event drew 36 teams from the United States, Canada, and India.

A student team from Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Ariz., campus (pictured in photo at right) won the first-ever Judges Innovation Design Award for their lunar robot, LAR-E (Luna All-terrain Regolith Excavator). LAR-E also ranked fourth in the Mining Competition. Pictured from left surrounding LAR-E: Nick Leslie, Jesse Gang, Matt Bender, Bryce Fox, Aaron Wilson, Carson Roy-Thill, Dr. John Nafziger (Advisor), Bryan Bollig, Jacob Pratt, Tyler Chang.

“LAR-E was so maneuverable and agile that it had the ability to climb over the walls,” said Matt Bender, a member of Prescott’s campus team.

One of his teammates, Jacob Pratt, added: “a NASA judge at the award ceremony said it is believable that this robot could work on the moon.”

A second team, from the university’s Daytona Beach, Fla., campus (pictured at left), won the Slide Presentation Award for their excavator, called Moon Pi.

Caroline Liron, a faculty advisor of the Daytona Beach team, said, “Our performance was even better than last year. The robot is a complete improvement.”

Both Embry-Riddle teams were made up of mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering students. Their efforts are the latest in a rapidly growing program in unmanned aerial systems and robotics at the university, which boasts nationally recognized engineering programs at both campuses.

The NASA-sponsored competition required all teams to design and build a lunabot, a remote-controlled or independent robot capable of collecting and depositing 10-kg of simulated lunar soil, called regolith, in 15 minutes.

All members of the Prescott team were from the first full graduating class for Mechanical Engineers. They chose this competition for their senior project. The Prescott campus of Embry-Riddle started accepting students into their Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering program in Fall 2007.


Daytona team Slide Presentation Award winners and their excavator, called Moon Pi


Matt Jacob Bender  Coupeville, WA  Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering
Bryan Bollig   Phoenix, AZMechanical Engineering
Bryce Bennett FoxFlagstaff, AZAerospace & Mechanical Engineering
Jesse Albert Gang  Chino Valley, AZ  Mechanical Engineering
Jacob Lawrence PrattSalem, OregonMechanical Engineering      
Carson Roy-ThillPrescott, AZAerospace & Mechanical Engineering
Aaron WilsonSparks, NVAerospace & Mechanical Engineering
Nick Leslie   Temecula, CAAerospace & Mechanical Engineering
Tyler Chang  Cottonwood, AZMechanical Engineering    

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