An enthusiastic team of engineering students from the Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology is getting ready to travel to the USA to compete in the 19th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race to be held on April 13-14, 2012, at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The competition requires students to design a vehicle that addresses a series of engineering challenges similar to those faced by the original Moonbuggy team. Each Moonbuggy will be human powered and carry two students, one female and one male, over a half-mile simulated lunar terrain course including “craters”, rocks, “lava” ridges, inclines and “lunar” soil.
More than 500 students from the USA, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, Russia, Italy, India, and the United Arab Emirates are expected to race their specially crafted lunar rovers or “moonbuggies.”
The SHCT team is the only team representing the UAE, the GCC and the Arab World at the upcoming contest.
UAE SHCT team members are: Wadhah Saif, Noora Al Sheehi and Fatima Bahlooq (Electronics Engineering) as well as Abdullah Rashid, Khalid Elyas and Sultan Salem (Mechanical Engineering). Students have prepared under the supervision of Mr. Abed Mennad, Mechanical Engineering Faculty and Dr. Najeeb Khan, Mechatronics Engineering Faculty, on designing and constructing a moonbuggy that will raise the UAE flag in Alabama.
Abdullah Rashid reflected on his participation, saying: “I was encouraged to challenge myself and join the NASA Great Moonbuggy Competition. I have learned and benefited a lot already from the preparation and training related to the project. Time management, team work, practical applications of theories and budget management are some examples of what I have learned.”
Wadhah Saif added: “It’s a great chance to me to participate in this competition because I like to challenge myself. I think I will learn a lot from this competition. I’m so proud to take part in this activity and to have the opportunity to represent my country and my college and this gives me a lot of motivation to do my best.”
“This is a great opportunity for me to participate in the NASA Moonbuggy Race and join the first UAE team entering this competition. I feel very proud,” fellow student Khalid Elyas said.
Noora Al Sheehi echoes her team members by affirming that the competition has offered her a unique opportunity to learn and develop new skills, challenge her abilities and represent her country.
Sultan Salem summed up the personal challenges he faced while preparing for the competition: “My biggest challenge was to maintain my good academic performance as we were working on the project specially that this semester is intensive as we go on work placement immediately after our return from the USA. The motivation and support received from Mr. Abed and my group members helped me a lot.”
The students will be accompanied on the trip by Dr. Najeeb Khan and Ms. Charlotte Dymond, SHCT Fitness & Health Coordinator.
The NASA Great Moonbuggy Race began in 1994, inspired by the original lunar rovers developed for the Apollo moon missions in the 1970s by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Boeing and General Motors engineers.
The main objectives of this competition, as listed by NASA, are to bring present engineering students in line with the latest updates of Moonbuggies; and to encourage engineering students to engage their engineering knowledge & skills with real problems faced by Moonbuggies in space, so that they come up with solutions and ideas.
For more information about the competition, please visit: http://moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov