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Students ready to compete in NASA Great Moonbuggy Race

April 16, 2013

Bevill State is two of more than 58 college teams tightening bolts, welding struts and preparing to race lightweight, human-powered vehicles of their own design during the 20th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race, April 26-27 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

More than 600 high school and college students, representing 18 states from the U.S. and six other countries are expected to participate in this year's race, navigating their innovative, two-person buggies around a half-mile-long course that simulates the craggy surface of the moon. NASA will stream the entire two-day event live via UStream: Races are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT.

This will be Bevill State’s fourth year to take two moonbuggies to Huntsville for the global competition. Over the last three years, they have been one of only two community colleges to compete in this annual event and they made their mark last year when they placed fifth in the world.

“We are so fortunate to have a moonbuggy that competed well last year and came in fifth place. As our students built the new moonbuggies, they were able to train on the vehicles used in the last competition,” said Maurice Ingle, Drafting Design Engineering instructor. “Our students are excited about this year’s race and we encourage our community to visit Huntsville to support our teams and cheer them on to a great finish.”

The year of preparation leading up to the competition has become an integral part of the Drafting program’s learning process. Students in the program step through the product design process with a real product as the end result of their work. They are joined by students from Bevill State’s Welding Technology, Machine Tool Technology, Auto Body Technology and General Studies programs to build two moonbuggies whose structure is crucial to the competition. The buggies must be strong enough to go through an intricate obstacle course, but light enough to be collapsed and placed in a 4x4x4 box. The NASA competition will time the process of assembling the vehicle as it comes out of the box, the preparation process for driving the vehicle and the actual obstacle course navigation. The two drivers, one male and one female, will also have to carry the crated buggy for 20 feet.

This year, Bevill State’s statewide competitors will feature two additional community colleges from Alabama – J.F. Drake State Technical College in Huntsville and Southern Union State Community College in Wadley. Five universities from Alabama will also join the competition including Alabama A&M, Normal; Auburn University, Auburn; Samford University, Birmingham; the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; and the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Huntsville.

“The experience is made even better due to the quality of our competitors,” Ingle added. “Not only do we compete against great schools in our state, but we are also facing academically challenging colleges across the country such as Sanford University, Rhodes College of Physics and Perdue University. Include colleges from other countries, and you have a daunting lineup of talent and knowledge.”

Teams from around the world arrive in Huntsville on April 25 to begin the Friday/Saturday event. Bevill State’s participation is made possible by grants and community sponsors including the Alabama Coal Association, West Alabama Development, Drummond Company, Inc. and Jasper Electric Motor, Inc. The program is seeking additional sponsors and students are encouraging sponsors and friends to watch the competition. Admission to the race facilities is free to the public.

The NASA Great Moonbuggy Race began in 1994, inspired by the original lunar rovers developed for the Apollo moon missions in the 1970s. The race is intended to inspire and engage new generations of engineers and explorers.

For more information about the moonbuggy project or to become a sponsor, contact Ingle at 800-648-3271 ext. 5214 or

Students ready to compete in NASA Great Moonbuggy Race

2012 Bevill State Moonbuggy drivers Brook Parrish and Richard Quiroga had a chance to speak with astronaut Leland Melvin during the 2012 NASA Great Moonbuggy Race.

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