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Engineering students build lunar rover replica

May 5, 2016

Students and staff from Ohio Northern University delivered an operable, full-size lunar rover replica to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum on Thursday, May 5. The rover is the result of three years of work by students from ONU’s Smull College of Engineering.

The rover seats two, can travel at 10 miles per hour, and includes authentic accessories like an antenna and tool storage. The Museum plans to use the vehicle for rover outreach engagements, for special events, and to participate in parades.

“It’s amazing that we will now have this realistic and working vehicle for outreach events. I don’t know how many other museums can drive their own lunar rovers,” said Chris Burton, executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. “Hopefully, this rover will inspire the next generation of engineers and astronauts to pursue their dreams in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

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“I would hope that seeing a project like this would inspire young kids in some way,”
 said Alec Flemming, an ONU senior mechanical engineering major from Powell, Ohio. “If they’re interested in math or science, they might say, ‘This is really cool. Maybe I could do this some day.’”

The project posed numerous challenges for the Ohio Northern team. NASA designed the lunar rover for use on the Moon, in 1/6 of Earth’s gravity. The museum’s rover would, of course, have to operate in 1G. Tires of wire mesh could support the reduced weight on the Moon, but would not suffice for streets on Earth. The University’s student project manager and team members needed to address each issue to balance physics, financial considerations, authenticity, and other real-world limitations.

“I hope the people who encounter the rover are able to experience exactly what the astronauts felt,” said Eric Dicke, an ONU senior mechanical engineering major from New Bremen, Ohio. “We tried to make it aesthetically as close to the actual rover as we possibly could.”

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Twenty-three Ohio Northern students spent more than 3,000 documented hours on the project. The project spanned six consecutive semesters and involved students in mechanical, electrical, computer, and civil engineering as well as the college’s new engineering education major. The rover cost an estimated $19,000 to build, with funds and materials provided by ONU’s Archer Memorial Fund, the Ohio Space Grant Consortium, and Polaris Industries.

The lunar rover will join its cousin “Curio” at the Museum. Almost exactly three years ago, the University delivered a 1:4 scale working model of Curiosity, the rover currently exploring Mars.

Student contributors

Tyler Bernardy, a senior engineering education major from Wooster, Ohio
Frederick Deichert IV, a senior mechanical engineering major from Ada, Ohio
Eric Dicke, a senior mechanical engineering major from New Bremen, Ohio
Daniel Eller, a junior mechanical engineering major from Medina, Ohio
Nicholas Eltzroth, a senior electrical engineering major from Westerville, Ohio
Alec Flemming, a senior mechanical engineering major from Powell, Ohio
Lucas Santos Goes, a non-degree-seeking Brazilian student who attended ONU through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program
Matthew Kostelnik, a senior electrical engineering major from Willoughby, Ohio
Eric Linn, a senior mechanical engineering major from Galion, Ohio
Julia Rossini Lupinacci, a non-degree-seeking Brazilian student who attended ONU through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program
Rodrigo Seixas Sansevero Martins, a non-degree-seeking Brazilian student who attended ONU through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program
Kurt Meyer, a senior mechanical engineering major from Columbus Grove, Ohio
Kenneth Ousley, a junior mechanical engineering major from Mansfield, Ohio
Cheyenne Raker, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Columbus, Ohio
Mario Weiss Reimao de Melo, a non-degree-seeking Brazilian student who attended ONU through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program
Raul Rogerio Pimentel Ribeiro, a non-degree-seeking Brazilian student who attended ONU through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program
Lance Rice, a senior mechanical engineering major from Marion, Ohio
Gabriel Russ, a senior electrical engineering major from North Canton, Ohio
Evan Sawyer, a senior mechanical engineering major from Worthington, Ohio
Tyler Silcox, a senior computer engineering major from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Matthew Stroh, a senior civil engineering major from Westlake, Ohio
Amy Tabar, a senior mechanical engineering major from Hinckley, Ohio
Kyle Thomas, a senior statistics major from Bellefontaine, Ohio

Contact

Eric Baumgartner, Dean of the College of Engineering, Email
Christopher Burton, Executive Director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Email
College of Engineering
Biggs Engineering 203
525 S Main St.
Ada, OH 45810-6000
Phone #: +1 419 772 2372

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