The new Additive Manufacturing Grand Challenge at Virginia Tech could pave the way for innovations in military repairs and remotely operated vehicles. The competition, which started on March 3 and is partly sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, invites Virginia Tech undergraduates and graduates of all majors to design and test 3D printed aircraft and ground vehicles. According to the challenge website, future military and civilian engineers might need to use similar methods to create remotely operated vehicles in urgent situations — like on battlefields or amidst natural disasters — where there’s no time to wait for reinforcements to arrive. 3D printing could also one day make machine repairs simple and convenient, by being able to print the necessary part wherever and whenever it’s needed.
Student teams can only use 3D printing materials and standard electronics sch as motors, batteries, and receivers. The finale, to be held May 15, will pit teams against each other in obstacle courses. Judging factors will include ability to navigate the course, time to complete a mission, and the time it took to print and assemble the parts of the vehicle. A total of $15,000 in cash prizes is at stake, which includes $3,000 for first-place winners and $250 for each team that creates a functional vehicle, regardless of placing.
The U.S. Department of Energy has selected 20 college teams to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. They include eight returning teams, 12 new teams, and four feature partners from international schools.
According to the department’s website:
“The Solar Decathlon 2015 teams now begin a two-year process to build solar-powered, highly energy-efficient houses that combine affordability, innovation, and design excellence. The teams will design, construct, and test their houses before reassembling them in fall 2015 at the competition site at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.
The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists’ Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science (E3) competition is held annually for students interested in environmental management projects and programs. Entrants display a wide range of projects, from innovative designs for waste treatment plants to new water treatment technologies. Winners are chosen for their potential to address a broad range of modern environmental challenges, and they’ll have a chance to compete for the IWA Global Project Innovation Awards, a contest on an international scale.
Projects can fall into one of nine categories that include university research, planning, design, small projects, and small firms. Entries for the 2014 competition must be received by February 1.
A group of engineering students and faculty at Pennsylvania State University is planning on launching a crowdfunding campaign to get over $400,000 to build and test a lunar rover prototype, according to Popular Science. The team, one of 18 teams entered in the Google Lunar XPrize and the only one run entirely by students, is vying for up to $20 million in prizes for their school.
The students aren’t just going to simulate a moon landing — they plan to test the rover on the moon itself. They’ll have to launch and land the rover on the moon, and drive it a distance of 500 meters, verifying the whole time by sending high-definition photos and videos back to Earth. The team is aiming for a launch date of December 19, 2015.
The New York Times called an international robotics competition that was held last month in Florida by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) “a woodstock for robots”. The DARPA Robotics Competition pitted 16 teams against each other in a challenge to design and test the best robot that could perform a number of different missions that would be similar to tasks in a human rescue mission.
The Japanese team Schaft swept the competition with a robot that performed all eight tasks almost flawlessly, beating out the next best team – IHMC Robotics from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition – by seven points.