The Robotics Design Team
The NYU Robotic Design Team spends countless hours each school year in constructing a robot for NASA’s Robotic Mining Competition. The competition consists of a 20-minute presentation, a system engineering paper of about 20 pages, and an outreach and volunteer component.
The goal of the competition is to design a robot that can best mine, collect, and deposit a Mars soil simulant. This simulant is called BP-1, or regolith, and mimics the properties of the dirt and soil found on Mars. Icy regolith, which is simulated with gravel, contains frozen water that lies a few centimeters below the surface of Mars. This water can be utilized for human hydration, oxygen, and rocket propellant. NASA uses this competition for research in finding the best regolith collection system for their own mining robot that would potentially be sent to Mars.
The competition also judges the team on their efforts to promote STEM in local communities. During the 2017-2018 season, the team hosted an off-season competition for FIRST Robotic Competition and a STEM education fair in hopes to call attention to the opportunities presented in the STEM field. This was organized by team member Teddy Kim who grew up in Yonkers, New York, and has been determined to give back to the community in which he was raised.
The team also promoted STEM to a group of special needs students, combining technology with therapy to help students with autism, using technology and therapy to help students communicate better with mentors and therapists.
In addition, the female members of the team routinely interacted with a local Girl Scout Troop to promote science and technology to female students. The female students taught the Lego Mindstorms software to the young students and gave them insight to robots and the STEM field. The Girl Scout Troop was the youngest to enter the Marine Park FLL Qualifier and were able to earn a total of 130 points. The team qualified for the FLL NYC Championship where they unfortunately did not place, but had a fun time anyway.
NYU’s Robotic Design Team is dedicated to winning NASA’s 10th annual competition this upcoming May. This previous May, the Robotic Design Team placed 6th in the intercollegiate competition of 44 total teams. In 2018, the team was composed of 23 diverse individuals, including computer science, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical and biomolecular engineering majors and masters.
The Robotic Design Team wants to raise money to help fund its various planned outreach projects for the upcoming academic year. Our goal for our community outreach is to bring more attention to the STEM fields to students who may otherwise not be presented the opportunity to explore it.
Our biggest outreach even that we have planned is an off-season FIRST Robotics Competition tournament, the Hudson Valley Rally (HVR), to be hosted at NYU Tandon’s Brooklyn Athletic Facility on Saturday, September 29, 2018. The even invites over 20 high school teams from the NYC metro area to build and test their robots in an annual challenge, released in January each year. For veteran teams, our event offers them the opportunity to hone their skills and refine their robots, while for new teams, it offers an introduction to the program and glimpse into the exciting world of robotics. Additionally, the event is open for public spectating where we hope to inspire even younger generations with the spectacle of robotics. HVR is also an opportunity for NYU to promote itself to a population of young promising engineers! The funds collected through this campaign will be used towards rental fees associated with the venue and equipment, refreshments for participating volunteers (we have over 60 students and industry volunteers for this event!) and prizes for the competing teams.