UA Student Team Readies Robot for Lunar-Mining Contest

Alabama Lunabotics members, from left, Mitchell Spryn, Adam Melton, Justin Baker and Jason Watts work on their lunabot in space provided for engineering student projects.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama Lunabotics, a team of students from The University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College, will compete in the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition May 21-27 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The team was challenged with designing and building an autonomous, or remote controlled, excavator called a lunabot.

The robot is tasked with collecting and scooping a minimum of 10 kilograms of a lunar-like material within 10 minutes. Design challenges include the abrasive characteristics of the material, the weight and size limitations of the lunabot and the ability to control the lunabot remotely.

On-site, the judging consists of the robot’s weight, how much material it can excavate and deposit and the amount of bandwidth used to communicate to the robot. The team will also be judged on its systems engineering paper, community outreach, a presentation, team spirit and the multidisciplinary level of the team.

The Alabama Lunabotics team will compete against 66 teams from around the world.

The team consists of:

  • Justin Baker, an electrical engineering sophomore at Shelton State from Tuscaloosa
  • Jessica Colburn, a public relations junior from Hoover
  • Justin Headley, en electrical engineering graduate student from Cropwell
  • Adam Melton, an electrical engineering sophomore from Hoover
  • Dalen Mullenix, an electrical engineering freshman at Shelton State from Gordo
  • Andrew Price, an electrical engineering graduate student from Birmingham
  • Logan Ream, a mechanical engineering senior from Dunwoody, Ga.
  • David Sandel, an electrical engineering graduate student from Dothan
  • Mitchell Spryn, an electrical engineering sophomore from Williamsburg, Va.
  • Stephanie Troy, a geology senior from Tuscaloosa
  • Jason Watts, an electrical engineering graduate student from Northport
  • Matt Westberry, a mechanical engineering graduate student from Dothan

The team received funding from the Alabama Space Grant Consortium and the UA Student Government Association, with numerous other sponsors, including JOY Mining Machinery, SolidWorks, Walter Energy, Zoe’s Kitchen, B&B Sports, AAR and IECS Inc., providing in-kind donations.

Dr. Kenneth Ricks, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the team’s faculty adviser.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 3,300 students and more than 100 faculty. In the last eight years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz and Truman scholars.


Katy Echols, engineering student writer,; Adam Jones, engineering public relations, 205/348-6444,