To showcase its world-class technology leadership, Caterpillar is supporting the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. The event, May 27-28, 2010, is designed to engage and retain college students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“The students at the competition are the Caterpillar engineers of tomorrow,” said Caterpillar Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Tana Utley. “Caterpillar has a long history of supporting educational opportunities that promote the STEM areas. We need to encourage and foster ingenuity and innovative thinking to current and future generations – it’s what our customers expect and deserve.”
Participants in the competition will design and build excavation systems that could be used for future lunar exploration. Teams will test their designs in a head-to-head challenge to see which design can excavate the most simulated lunar “dirt” over a specific timeframe.
The technologies produced at the competition could one day be applied to actual lunar excavation for NASA and provide near-term solutions for mining and excavating applications on earth. Caterpillar Automation Manager, Eric Reiners, is lending his expertise as a judge at the event.
“Educational outreach has been an important part of our collaborations with NASA, and we look forward to continuing this focus with the Lunabotics Mining Competition,” said Reiners. “While the applications showcased during the event have an eye toward the sky, these technologies could have a positive impact on current mining operations on this planet. The development of autonomous mining and hauling systems will ultimately help Cat customers boost efficiency and increase profitability.”
Currently, there are 22 graduate and undergraduate student teams enrolled in the competition. Along with Reiners’ participation, Caterpillar is also providing apparel for the students, judges and staff. In addition, Caterpillar dealer, Ring Power, is supplying a 277C Multi Terrain Loader to provide a physical link to showcase the technologies Caterpillar and NASA are developing.