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UAH charges to win with ‘HERCulean’ effort

HUNTSVILLE — Wanna go for a ride under the stars… on the moon?

It was a big win for the home team this weekend when the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s HERCules rover team captured the college title in the 2023 Human Exploration Rover Challenge at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The UAH rover “HERCules” was guided by a two-person crew, competing with 49 teams from 20 states and eight countries.

“I am truly grateful to David Fikes for his dedication and passion to teaching and mentoring our mechanical and aerospace engineering senior design students,” said Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, dean of the UAH College of Engineering. “His enthusiasm is contagious, and our students work incredibly well in small teams under his guidance.

“He ensures that everyone has a key role in meeting design objectives needed for the class, and in adhering to competition guidelines. We are confident that these students will be incredibly successful in their engineering careers,”

In support of coming Artemis missions to the moon and beyond, HERC encourages research and development of new technology for future mission planning and crewed space missions to other worlds.

College and high school teams from around the world were challenged with designing, developing, building and testing human-powered rovers capable of negotiating difficult terrain. It had to include a task tool for completion of various mission tasks.

“As the advisor/instructor for six years now, I am proud of our UAH students,” said David Fikes, a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, who is also the team advisor and senior design instructor.

“They set a goal and worked extremely hard to achieve it, some putting in 20-plus hours a week at times. They deserve all the credit…” he said.

Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla. won first place in the high school division.

Click here to see a complete list of the winners.

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