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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Young engineers set up their robotic creations in Foster Ballroom on the MSU Campus. There, they met with two engineers from NASA, who are leaders of the Curiosity Rover mission to Mars.

Each team modeled their machines after authentic robots that are used to explore space.

“When they get their kits for their robots, there are some motors and a driver. But then there is just sheets of plywood, some pvc pipes, screws, bolts, nuts, that kind of thing. And they have to use their CAVS Software that their schools design it and then build it and make it all work. So they are starting from nothing to build these,”said Eric Heiselt, MSU College of Engineering.

“I actually worked a lot with the public relations so I helped put the booth together. I designed the t-shirts like the one I’m wearing. I design posters,” said Trey wallace, Starkville Home Educators.

“Well we first had to figure out how to get the robot up the pole first. And I think that was definitely the biggest problem. And that took some time to figure out,” said Sabrianan Micha, Starkville High School.

About 600 teams were in the competition.

Young people are challenged to create a robot model that can climb space elevators.

Ground floor for the elevators is in the middle of the ocean.

“And there would be a nuclear reactor there to provide the power. And the ribbon would then go up into the low orbit. And basically it drags that station with the earth. So we are tethered to that station,” said Heiselt.

NASA’s Adam Steltzner helped design, test, and build the sky crane landing system for the Curiosity rover.

Steltzner, and his partner Bobak Fedowski, became internet sensations with their unique hairstyles and contagious excitement.

Tuesday (1-29-13), he critiqued the students’ engineering prowess.

Steltzner was impressed, especially with the Starkville High School team.

They placed number 18th among 600 teams.

“They are coming from a wide range of different kinds of schools and I’m loving the ingenuity I see in each of them,” said Steltzner.

The next mission back to Mars is set for the year 2020.

Robots will be relied upon to give us a clearer understanding of the red planet.


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