Clay Robinson, Matthew Perdue, Megan Campbell, Ken Aung, A.J. Giberson and Caleb Washburn show their awards after being named overall design challenge champions

Five Lamar University seniors majoring in mechanical engineering took top honors in the Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) Challenge, among 11 teams competing in the Fall 2015 Design Challenge.

The Senior Design Team “L.U.M.A.R.D.” worked to modify a portion of the Mars Drill design that is currently operating on the Mars Curiosity Rover to improve its operational efficiency. The drill is working to locate “permafrost,” a substance that could result in creating water on Mars, a vital element for further space exploration for NASA.

The team chose to work on the drill’s sample handling system, and, after a semester of work, came up with a design which they plan to build in the spring that will operate more efficiently than the current design and meet the minimum weight requirement for this attachment.

The team received first place in poster design, second in oral presentation, third in team model, were selected as the “Fan Favorite” and were named the Overall Design Challenge Champions. Coupled with the accolades was an award of $1625.

LU’s student team was lead by Matthew Perdue of Newton. Clay Robinson of Dayton served as the deputy team leader, joined by Megan Campbell of Coral Springs, Fla., A.J. Giberson of Dayton and Caleb Washburn of Nederland.

Lamar University Professor Kendrick Aung, who holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, served as faculty advisor for the team. The team was also mentored by Humboldt Mandell, a Research Fellow at The University of Texas Center for Space Research.

The Texas Space Grant Consortium is a group of 57 institutions which include universities, industrial organizations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies within Texas that are joined to ensure that the benefits of space research and technology are available to all Texans.