The 2010-2011 academic year marked the inception of the LunaCats as a senior design project team at UNH thanks to the efforts of Professor May-Win Thein.
The 2011 LunaCats were comprised of 9 Mechanical Engineering seniors along with a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering graduate student advisor. They overcame the difficulties of being a first year team and were able to design and build a functioning lunabot. The team was able to attend and participate in the 2nd Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Center. The team learned alot from the competition and had ideas for improvements. With the seniors graduating, it was uncertain if there was going to be a team the following year.
With the start of the new academic school year there was enough interest in the senior class that a new LunaCats team was formed. The 2012 UNH LunaCats are an interdisciplinary team comprised of 9 Mechanical Engineering Seniors and 2 Computer Science Seniors. The team is currently the largest UNH Senior Design Team. 2012 is also the year that the LunaCats became an official student organization at the University of New Hampshire. Being a University Student Organization allows the LunaCats to expand beyond the College of Engineering and Physical Science at the University of New Hampshire. The team hopes to take the momentum from the 2011 LunaCats and learn from their mistakes in order to do well in this year’s competition.
The 2012-2013 UNH LunaCats are a veteran group competing in the NASA Lunabotics Competition for a third consecutive year. In previous years, the team enjoyed success in robot performance and has set its goal as a top ten finish for the 2013 competition, improving in areas such as community outreach and systems engineering program. Students are attracted from several science and engineering disciplines to come together and collaborate on robot design, construction, control, and participating in outreach programs. The LunaCats are composed of eight students studying mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science in both graduate and undergraduate programs. While designing and constructing the lunar excavator, the team has participated in outreach programs at the Boston Museum of Science, McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire.
The UNH LunaCats are returning for a 4th year in the NASA Robotic Mining Competition. Working from the University of New Hampshire under the support of Professor May-Win Thein, the team is refining and improving their robotic design from previous years. The team is also expanding their community presence by 0appearing at regional events and mentoring local students by working with them on hands-on engineering activities. After the success of last year’s competition, having placed 3rd in the Mining Category and 1st in Efficient Communications with their robot (nicknamed MOOSE), the LunaCats are aiming for first place overall. The LunaCats are led by Caleigh MacPherson, a Mechanical Engineering Master’s candidate, and are comprised of seniors in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science as well as underclassmen from Physics and Chemical Engineering. The robot (and team) is made possible by sponsorships from the University of New Hampshire, AVID Corporation, and local engineering firms. Go LunaCats!