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Private college in Ghaziabad wins NASA honours

Amil Bhatnagar
The students have been preparing since September

A group of engineering students from a private Ghaziabad college were awarded the Neil Armstrong Award for Best Design in the college category in the 25th Annual Rover Challenge held from April 12-13 at the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama.

The four-member team from Krishna Institute of Engineering and Technology was competing among 115 teams from all over the world in presenting the best design for a Mars Rover.

'Team Interstellars' was led by Shatakshi Dwivedi, a mechanical engineering student, who was also the driver, and comprised Abhimanyu Bhagat, an electrical engineering student, and Utkarsh Sharma and Suyash Yadav, both pursuing mechanical engineering. The four students had been preparing for the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge since September 2018.

"The students had been working hard on the project for the past six months. They were participating for the first time and yet they managed to win against teams who had been competing for the past 20 years," said Tuhin Srivastava, the team advisor from the college faculty.

The compact design of the rover proved to be the clinching factor for the award among several designs, the faculty claimed.

"There is a rule of the tournament that the rover design should fit within the 5x5x5 feet cube. The design by the students was appreciated for its weight and its compactness. Another different thing was that we used a three wheel side-by-side technique rather than the usual four wheel side-by-side module," said Tuhin.

The rover was assembled at the Space Institute, where the competition was held, as the spare parts were brought by air cargo.

The rover had to go through various obstacles in order to be deemed the winner.

Dwivedi (22), who is visiting the Space Institute for the first time, said, "It was challenging to be a girl captain but the team was very supportive. Since it was our first time, it involved a risk factor. A lot has been learnt from the participating teams and I feel a lot of technology can be brought back to India. Our college spent lakhs on transporting the rover and on our travel. It would not have been possible without them."