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Building a Better Buggy: RISD Students Reach for the Moon


RISD's Moonbuggy team is on a roll. From left to right, Industrial Design students Zach Jenkins 13, Anna Dooley 13, Kyle Dell'aquila 12, Sehee Lim 13, Kyle Moore 12, Maeve Jopson 13, Ilya Brukhman 12, Alicia Lew 11, Bryan Cloyd 11, Clifford Warren 11 and Yarrow Thorne 12

On April 1-2, a team of RISD students participated in this year’s NASA Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville, AL, competing against teams from nearly 90 schools and colleges from as far away as Germany, Russia, India and Ethiopia. The goal? To design, build and race lightweight, human-powered vehicles over a half-mile of lunar-like terrain. Success rested on finding innovative solutions to engineering challenges similar to those faced in building the actual all-terrain vehicles used on the moon.

moonbuggy-riders3Last year RISD was the first art and design school ever to enter the race and took home third place. This year students spent late nights and countless hours building a better buggy, hoping that the many changes and enhancements they made would help them improve on last year’s finish.

The Moonbuggy competition is just one of several ways that RISD and NASA have been working together for more than 15 years. Other collaborative projects have had Industrial Design students looking at design for extreme environments, managing information overload and other innovative solutions for living and working in zero-gravity.

Update: RISD was awarded Best Moonbuggy Design (for solving engineering problems associated with lunar travel)


Video coverage of the race (RISD starts at 7:30)
NASA interview with Cliff Warren 11 ID
RISD’s Moonbuggy stands out


tags: innovation, interdisciplinary, Industrial Design, research, STEAM, students, wintersession

At RISD there's nothing unusual about suddenly finding a doorknob on a tree trunk, shown here across from Carr House,
the charming home of Student Life offices and the student-run Carr Haus Café.