Peruvian university students qualify for NASA’s challenge to design a rover

Student projects from the National University of Engineering and the University of Piura were selected by NASA .

Students from the National University of Engineering (UNI) and the University of Piura (UDEP) will participate in NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC).

This test summons engineering students from all over the world to build vehicles that can be used in the exploration of the Moon or Mars.

Tharsis , an interdisciplinary group from UNI, and Ares, representing the University of Piura , are among the 61 groups selected for the competition to be held at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

This will be the first competition with a physical presence since 2019, when this modality was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

The Peruvians who will be in the eyes of NASA

UNI Tharsis has around 80 members. The group leaders are: Ángel Flores, Cinthia León, Franklin Mendoza, Víctor Fuertes, Jorge Bonilla, Martín Fuentes, Diego Salazar, Isaí Quispe, Erick Gonzales, Kevin Contreras, Kevin Vásquez, Ángela Ramos, Héctor Llamacponcca, Joselyn Valverde, José Rodríguez , Andrea Condori, Elizabeth Diaz and Eduard Mendez.

Tharsis has started the competition off on the right foot, after NASA selected its design among the 15 best rover design proposals.

“We had to demonstrate our ability to be able to develop a reliable design and also, in turn, the ability to have the basic knowledge to elaborate it in the manufacturing aspect, knowledge of tools, machines at an industrial and semi-industrial level. In the design area they asked us for the research criteria. We don’t know what kind of terrain can be found on Mars, it can be very sandy, watery, smooth or very rocky, so the wheel had to resist all that travel or withstand all that so that it can continue to function and maintain as little maintenance as possible, ” explained Víctor Fuertes Saboya, a student in the tenth cycle of Mechanical Engineering, to Andina news agency .

The Ares Group of the University of Piura is made up of: Rafael Pachas, Javier Reyes Farías, Alejandro Herencia, Piero Díaz, Manuel Vargas, Dilver Ruiz, John Oblitas, Angie Chuyes, Manuel Ortega, Kristell Reto, Cristopher Quedena, José Arroyo, Cristina Lazo, Diego Estela, Carla Mayor, Luis Sialer, Valeria Alayo, Guillermo Rivas, Camila Gómez and Oscar Linares. They are advised by Dr. Carlos Ojeda and the engineer Nils Checa.

“This is a great achievement, since we are the first from UDEP to try to participate in this contest and we have managed to qualify for the competition,” said Javier Reyes, a member of the Ares group.

HERC: a long-running competition

The teams must present the advances in design and development, in addition to passing operability checks and tests along with STEM reports before going through the circuit proposed by NASA : half a mile (0.8km) of a field that simulates remains of asteroids, rocks , cracks and others.

NASA encourages female participation, so at least one of the two occupants of the rover during the test must be a woman.

The final leg of the competition will take place from April 20 to 22, 2023.