Robotics Team to host competition in preparation for NASA

Tess Cottom

The Kent State Robotics Team is gearing up for a national competition by hosting its first practice tournament at the university Feb. 5 and 6.

Founded last fall, the team will be heading to the NASA Kennedy Space Center on May 16 to participate in its robotic mining competition for the second year.

This year, to serve as a test run for the NASA competition, the team has decided to host its own mock competition that is open to robotics teams around the country.

The team’s public relations leader, Sarah Rosenbaum, a sophomore German literature, culture and translation major, said the idea came about at last year’s competition.

“We talked about it while we were at the competition with a few of the schools that were around us,” Rosenbaum said. “We decided we should have a little get-together before the competition to practice and give each other tips to see where we all are.”

The practice competition will host teams from several universities, including Case Western Reserve University, the University of Akron, Wright State University, Purdue University and Virginia Tech.

“It’s nice having the out-of-state schools interested, and to make it a national competition is pretty cool,” said Dan Kish, a senior industrial technology major and the president of the team.

This competition will allow students competing at NASA to meet with one another, as well as practice doing the tasks required at the competition.

“There isn’t much of an opportunity to try things like this out anywhere in the country,” said Darwin Boyd, a faculty advisor for the team. “This isn’t a cutthroat competition, it’s more of a scrimmage to help each other out.”

Once it reaches NASA, the robot’s main goal will be to move as much regolith, a rocky material, as it can to a collector bin. This serves as a simulation of mining in space on planets, such as Mars. The robot will be judged on a number of things, including its mass, autonomy and the energy it uses to carry out actions.

Last year, the team went to NASA with only three months of preparation and placed seventh in mining out of the 49 schools competing.

“Some of these teams had a full year to work on their robot and we were still able to beat them,” Kish said. “This year, we’ll have more time to fine-tune and have more efficient trade-offs with weight and power and stuff like that.”

The team has been preparing, designing and building for the competition since the end of last year’s competition on May 18.

The practice competition will be held in the Ballroom of the Student Center.

Contact Tess Cottom at [email protected].