VIRGINIA CITY — Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta was in Virginia City Tuesday to honor the Virginia City High School team that competed for the first time in NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The team of seven students and their instructor, Ric Schrank, placed third in the rookie category in the 19th annual competition that is open to high schools, colleges and international teams. The students on the team are Matthew Roberts, Jenna Burns, Thomas Webster, Jake Potter, Sam Hunter, Nathanael Fuller, and Beau Biederman.
The Virginia City team finished 16th overall in the vehicular engineering competition that drew 80 teams from 20 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Nevada Supreme Court award presented by Justice Saitta states: “In honor of the time, effort and commitment that you invested in making your team’s participation in the 2012 NASA Great Moonbuggy Race a triumph, the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada extends its hearty congratulations to you. Your team’s success in the race, placing 3rd in the Rookie of the Year category and 16th overall, is commendable.”
Organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, the race challenges students to design, build and race lightweight, human-powered buggies. Traversing the grueling half-mile course, which simulates the cratered lunar surface, race teams face many of the same engineering challenges dealt with by Apollo-era lunar rover developers at the Marshall Center in the late 1960s. The winning teams post the fastest vehicle assembly and race times in their divisions, with the fewest on-course penalties.
Approximately 600 student drivers, engineers and mechanics, plus their team advisors and cheering sections, gathered April 13 and 14 for the harrowing “space race.”
The Rookie Award (for fastest course completion by a new race team) went to Colegio Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro in Humacao, Puerto Rico and Rhodes College Dept. of Physics in Memphis, Tenn.
“NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race gets bigger and more exciting every year — just like the career horizons NASA strives to open up to new generations of young engineers, scientists and explorers,” said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Marshall Center’s Academic Affairs Office, which organizes the race. “We seek to connect the classroom experience to a real, tangible future for every graduate — one in which some of them, we hope, will be inspired to carry on NASA’s mission of discovery and help us reap the benefits back home on Earth.”
NASA gave top high school honors to the team from Petra Mercado High School in Humacao, Puerto Rico, which was competing in its second year. The team finished the half-mile course in 3 minutes, 20 seconds.
Finishing in second place this year in the high school division was Colegio Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro in Humacao, Puerto Rico. In third place was Arab High School Team 1 from Arab, Ala.
Racers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville Team 1 claimed the college-division trophy, finishing in 4 minutes, 3 seconds.
University of Puerto Rico at Humacao won second place in the college division, with the Purdue University Calumet Team 1 from Hammond, Ind., taking home third place.