UA Mechanical Engineering Students Design NASA Moonbuggy Vehicles for High Schools

  • November 5th, 2004

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Alabama mechanical engineering students will participate in a local competition of NASA Moonbuggy vehicles Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. near the Intramural Fields past the intersection of Campus Drive and Bryce Hospital Drive.

Five teams from UA’s mechanical engineering Design 1 class, the first of a two-course, senior-level design series, have partnered with high schools and church youth groups to design the vehicles. The high schools/youth groups can choose to compete in NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville in April.

“By partnering with high school students, the teams have had to learn the importance of designing a vehicle for their clients’ needs and wants. It added another real-world aspect to the project,” explained Dr. Joey Parker, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The human-powered vehicles are designed to compete over a lunar-like terrain. Each team was responsible for designing a vehicle that occupies a space no more than 4-feet wide by 4-feet long by 4-feet high before its assembly, which matches the space available for transport in a rocket.

Prior to the race, the vehicle must be carried 20 feet by the two drivers and then assembled for use. Two team members power and drive their vehicle over the half-mile obstacle course of simulated moonscape terrain. Winners will be determined by the fastest vehicle-assembly time and the fastest time for traveling through the course.

The high schools and youth groups that UA students partnered with are:

  • Day Star International Fellowship in Tuscaloosa – Youth Group
  • Dothan High School in Dothan
  • New Beginning Family Worship Center in Tuscaloosa – Youth Group
  • Tuscaloosa Christian School – Senior Physics Class
  • Tuscaloosa County High School – Freshman Drafting Class
  • Vinemont High School in Cullman

In 1837, UA became the first university in the state to offer engineering classes and was one of the first five in the nation to do so. Today, the College of Engineering, with about 1,900 students and more than 95 faculty, is one of the three oldest continuously operating engineering programs in the country and has been fully accredited since accreditation standards were implemented in the 1930s.


Dr. Joey Parker, 205/348-1654,


Mary Wymer, Engineering Media Relations, 205/348-6444,

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.