Engineering’s NASA rover team receives $25K gift from Army Research Lab

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has committed $25,000 for the Campbell University School of Engineering’s NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC) team, the school announced this week. The funds will allow the team — which competed in the national competition in Huntsville, Alabama, for the first time this year — to support more members and continue to offer educational opportunities in the Huntsville area, such as this year’s tour of the Redstone Arsenal. 

“We are most appreciative of the substantial support from the Army Research Lab for our team again next year,” Engineering Dean Jenna Carpenter said.“HERC is a significant team-based, project-oriented learning experience, which is the core of our approach to educating our engineering majors. With the Army’s support, we can involve a much larger cohort of students and include a wider variety of innovative learning experiences.”

Campbell’s team competed against more than 100 universities and colleges from around the country at Marshall Space Center back in April, testing their self-built rovers on a timed course mimicking different other-worldly terrains. Each team featured two pilots — one man, one woman — and had to finish the course in under seven minutes to earn points and a chance to win it all.

Their first time was a learning experience, according to Lee Rynearson — assistant professor of engineering and the faculty mentor for the group — who said his students left Huntsville with a ton of new knowledge for future competitions.

“There was a lot of growth for our program … we considered this a building year,” Rynearson said. “We went, we saw how it’s done, and we became a better team because of it.”

The Army Research Laboratory of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command is the Army’s corporate, or central, laboratory. Its diverse assortment of unique facilities and dedicated workforce of government and private sector partners make up the largest source of world-class integrated research and analysis in the Army.