It’s The Crazy Season!

Student design competitions are in full swing. Bright and early tomorrow starts the Steel Bridge contest, followed just a day later by the Concrete Canoe event, both in Stillwater, OK. The ’14 S&T bridge is a stunning example of design simplicity that takes but three students to assemble in under 10 minutes. The Route 66-themed The Mother Rowed canoe has so far overcome some pretty serious cracks after a critical pour component didn’t arrive in time. If it survives the trailer ride to OSU country, it should be OK.

Overlapping those two events is the ASME West Coast Human Powered Vehicle Competitions, two time zones to the west in San Jose, CA. The road rash on Peter Freiberger’s carbon-fiber masterpiece has been repaired, and the endurance race will be held on an old-fashioned velodromes so hay bales and overly-aggressive riding should be less of a problem.

FASEDC3SUN_0991In the midst of all this chaos Rolla’s flashiest and most consistent team, Formula SAE, has carved out some asphalt of their own at the Rolla National Airport. Nights, weekends, rain or shine they’ve been testing, testing, testing. Another 10 days or so and the full aero package will be ready while the body-panels-of-many-colors will give way to one of the flashiest machines of the 400+ teams that run in these events world-wide.

In other news, Phoenix, the Mars Rover Design Team’s freshly-unveiled machine was rolling on its own late last night, and Saturday’s Illinois test of the Advanced Aero Vehicle Groups monster rocket was a good one. Most components worked as designed, nothing broke, and they got all the pieces back. Not a bad day’s work.

Lastly, from the Conde’ Nast travel guide. You’re probably in the wrong hotel if your toilet has a sign on the tank telling you not to drink the water. The advance party for Human Powered Vehicle sent us this travel tidbit tonight:

“Is it really necessary to tell hotel occupants not to drink out of the toilet? Really?”

Way To Make An Entrance!

Experiential Learning is just that; learning by doing, whether in victory or defeat. In their first year the S&T Mars Rover Design Team (MRDT) put together a superbly-organized crew that made it to competition in the Utah desert. That Mars-analog, on-the-ground experience gave the Miner Martians the last piece of the puzzle, the understanding of what the task really demanded. And they responded!
MRDTUnveilSUN_0474Graduating CEO Michael Bouchard opened the ceremony by recognizing the Mars Society, sponsors of the international competition, and explaining the team’s philosophy of “Today. Tomorrow. Forever.”

No S&T design team has ever made such a quantum leap in their sophomore season as MRDT; no team has even come close. Phoenix, revealed Friday to a large campus crowd, looks like the team skipped several generations of development to produce a vehicle light-years ahead of last year’s highly-regarded “Akers.”

MRDTSUN_0608Phoenix rolled out from behind a curtain as “Redesigned, Rethought, Reborn” to applause from students, staff, faculty, press, families and campus visitors alike.

Chief Technical Officer Charlie Gardner, Jr., introduced system team leads Ian Lee (mechanical systems), Josh Jetter (telecommunications), Jake Armenta (power train) and Leah Spandle (auxiliary) all of whom described the rover’s many features, from concept to manufacturing and testing.

MRDT2SUN_0673After the formal ceremonies it was time for handshakes, (more) smiles and plenty of photos, topped off by the jubilant “selfie,” before refocusing on the May 29-31st event in remote Hanksville, UT.

Be a part of the excitement! Follow MRDT on Facebook!

Last year one shocked veteran competitor said “If this is what you bring your first time, what the @#$%&! are you going to bring NEXT year?

He’s about to find out. Five bucks says he’ll be speechless.

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send The Martians On Over….

Monday morning the Mars Rover Design Team (MRDT) work area/stall was quiet; too quiet. Just ten days (and counting) until the public Rover unveiling/naming celebration, you’d think MRDT would be in final/frantic crunch mode; repairing the unbreakable thing or remaking a piece because the ordered parts didn’t fit.

Just a yardstick away the Human Powered Vehicle Competition Team (HPVC) was struggling to finish the last few pieces of their masterful carbon-fiber trike. Realizing that HPVC’s competition deadline was just three days away Rover’s mechanical team, including Jon Bopp and James Zandstra, saw a greater need than their own and instantly suspended Rover work to help get the ASME-sponsored project out the door. Baja! SAE’s mechanics and the crew of Advanced Aero Vehicle Group’s rocket team took the hint and pitched right in, pulling a community all-nighter to wrap things up.

MRDT Mechanical Systems Team Lead Ian Lee said “If you look around the shop on any day in the year, you would see Peter Frieberger, Mitch Thurman, and other HPV members helping other teams, especially with composites. They have almost certainly lent a helping hand, design advice, or some machining time to every project in the center this year. Peter even cleared space in their work area for our team’s tables and tools. I’m proud of our guys for jumping in to help. I figure the least we could do was to help them succeed at their competition.”

The focus of experiential learning at Missouri S&T is team-based operations, which prepares our students to thrive in their careers, communities, and lives alike. Call it the Golden Rule if you like, or Spock’s “………the needs of the many……” soliloquy, (which any respectable tech geek knows by heart) putting other people’s needs ahead of your own speaks volumes about these students.

A few years back a Miner design team member exclaimed “WOW! There’s a whole lot more to engineering than just engineering!” Generosity, unselfishness, integrity, teamwork and kindness aren’t necessarily taught in the classroom. Those traits start at home and really blossom as you learn to work well with other people. Design center staff have the best jobs on campus as we watch these young people develop into the kind of people anyone would want to work with. It’s a genuine honor to think we might have had a small role in that process.

And yes, the Human Powered Vehicle Competition Team DID get on the road to Florida. With a little (lot?) help from their friends.

As it should be.

Rockets and Marshmallows and Glass! Oh, My!

The St. Louis Science Center is the perfect antidote for kids with cabin fever, and what better time to visit than Engineers’ Week?

S&T’s design teams, along with amazing students from Material Advantage outreach crew, celebrated by setting up hands-on technical displays that kids are encouraged to touch, play, launch, break and even eat.

Advanced Aero Vehicle Group turned paper and tape into the stuff of dreams by helping young children build and name their own paper rockets. A small compressor and PVC tubing served as the perfect platform to simultaneously send four semi-guided paper projectiles near the roof of the Science Center’s four story building. Most of the missiles were taken home as prized trophies; others remain on ceiling beams, the top of the elevator, or firmly lodged in other groups’ displays.

MADSC_9077 The student traveling roadshow known as Material Advantage, AKA material manipulators, brought playtime down to earth by handing out nitrogen-frozen marshmallows. The little gems look and taste the same but go “crunch!” when eaten and cause steamy vapor to escape from your nose. Just the kind of thing to keep kids wondering “How?” “Why?”

Engineering can be a lot of fun; intriguing stuff that ignites the spark that guides a youngster’s entire life. A passion that may have started with steam wafting from a child’s nose.

A Teaser Like No Other

“Always leave them wanting more!” – P.T. Barnum.

For the S&T Mars Rover Team:

Form meets Function.

Art meets Science.

Music meets Mars.

Flattery in imitation, parody superior to the original.

Our Polish friends screaming “We want MORE!”

Mission accomplished.

Future U.S. Space Programs Depend On New Talent And Inspiration.

American space exploration will return to the heavens in a big way, and soon. That’s the goal of four dedicated design teams on the S&T campus.

S&T’s Mars Rover Design Team (MRDT), a group with just one competition cycle under their belts, organized the first annual campus Space Week exhibits designed to get the next generation of Mercury/Apollo/Space Shuttle engineers excited about space exploration.

MRDTDSC_5581Mirroring international space cooperation students from Miners in Space, the S&T Satellite Team, and the Advanced Aero Vehicle Group combined forces to host community events covering topics from “Be an Engineer for a Day,” “Meet the Planets”, “Aerospace Adventures,” to building paper rockets. An evening speaker series brought in experts in space-related fields, including S&T alum and four-time Shuttle Astronaut Tom Akers, in whose honor the MRDT’s first Mars-style rover is named.

The mid-day displays were a huge hit with kids and adults alike. Student groups from several local schools filled the Havener Center atrium with their planet posters and got to play with and control robots of all sizes.
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Tom Akers wrapped up the week with a tour of the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center where he shared the nitty-gritty aspects of life in space as he knew it with many of the MRDT members. Tom was also gracious enough to autograph “Akers,” the team’s inaugural rover.

From Zero To A Fully-Functional Team In Just One Year

The new Kummer Student Design Center has attracted a lot of attention since it’s opening two years ago, and that popularity has attracted new student design teams as moths to a flame.  The Student Design and Experiential Learning Center moved into the Kummer Center with ten active teams and added three more seemingly before the SDELC staff could say “Who?  What?”

The most ambitious and well-organized of the start-from-scratch student groups is the Mars Rover Team, founded and led by Michael Bouchard.  We could type all day and not even come close to explaining the project as well as he does, so we give you MICHAEL, and the S&T Mars Rover Team, in his own words.

Enjoy, and we are confident you’ll be as impressed as we are.

Seriously? Is This How A Trip To Mars Starts?

MarsRoverblogSUN_7649.jpg
Sporting a Nintendo t-shirt, Patrick Bazzoli sits outdoors in an office chair holding a stick while his friends laugh and snap photos. Not your usual scientific method.

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