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 the Mooon soil simulant. This simulant is called BP-1, or regolith, and mimics the properties of the dirt and soil found on the Moon. Icy regolith, which is simulated with gravel, contains frozen water that lies a few centimeters below the surface of the Moon. 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 the Moon.
In addition to the competitive aspect of the team, RDT is immensely dedicated to the propagation of STEM within all communities. The team consistently promotes STEM to young females in the Girls Club by advocating as mentors for their NASA Space Apps Challenge Program. Each year many female members of the team would spend the weekend with them and inspire many to pursure engineering. For the 2020 challenge, the event was competed over zoom but last year we were able to attend in person and a photo from the event is shown above!
The team also activley volunteers with Mouse in their various STEM events each year. The captain, Angy Lara, was part of the program in her youth and was extremley excited to give back to the community that inspired her to pursue engineering. Many of the children there would become intruuigied in STEM and engineering after the events just like Angy did as a child. The photo above highlights the Robot Election event in 2019 at the Mouse Headquarters.
Another project the team is passionate about is mentoring a high school robotics team! Every fall we host a series of bootcamps for their members to properly train them for the upcoming FRC competition. After the bootcamps, the Robotics Design Team would visit them as mentors every weekend to help in any which was possible. The photo above was during our 2019 bootcamp training where the high school team had to collaborate on making a catapult machine.
The Robotic Design Team wants to raise money to help fund its various planned outreach projects alongside general funding for the robot for the upcoming academic year. Our goal is not only for victory at the Mining Competition but as well as to amplify our community outreach. RDT aims to succeed in all aspects which includes bringing more attention to the STEM fields to students who may otherwise not be presented the opportunity to explore it.