Kerala students selected for Mars rovers design contest

A team of engineering students from Kerala have been selected for the prestigious Mars rovers design competition in the United States.

By T K Devasia

Published: Tue 25 Mar 2014, 11:49 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:44 AM

The five-member team from the Toc-H Institute of Science and Technology (TIST) at Cochin will be participating in the University Rovers Challenge (URC). The members of the team are Muhammed Juhaim Ibnu Abdul Jabbar, PV Abimanyu Nair, Annop Nayak, Jibin Jose and Joseph Stephen.

Their task is to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers that will one day work alongside human explorers in the field. They will be assisted by TIST faculty members Kiran George Varghese and Shajan K Thomas.

This is for the first time that students of an engineering college in Kerala have been selected to participate in the URC, which is the world’s premier robotics competition for college students. They will be competing with students from prestigious institutions including Yale University, Cornell University and the Warsaw University of Technology. TIST director Dr V Job Kuruvilla said the students and faculty were thrilled by the selection. He said the team got the selection after their designs were scrutinised and approved by the two organising committees in the US.

Job said that the college was extending all support to scientific endeavours through an Innovations and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (IEDC). Two of the members of the team already have their own ventures at the Startup Village at Cochin.

TIST is among 31 university teams in the URC representing six countries. They are the US, India, Egypt, Poland, Canada and Bangladesh. The team from Kerala will also be competing in the prestigious international aeronautical contest, CanSat.

While the CanSat competition will be held in Texas in June, the URC will be held at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in May this year.

The CanSat competition gives the students an opportunity to be involved in an end-to-end life cycle of a complex engineering project from conceptual design through integration, test and actual operation of the system.

The mission this year is to simulate the delivery of a sensor payload to a planet’s surface. The students will design a system consisting of a two primary components — the payload (a large egg) and a re-entry container to protect it.

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