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Armstrong Air & Space Museum Adds Lunar Rover for Outreach, Exhibit

Press Release From: Armstrong AIr & Space Museum
Posted: Friday, April 29, 2016

Students and staff from Ohio Northern University (ONU) will deliver a drivable, full-size lunar rover replica to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum on Thursday, May 5. The rover is the result of three years of work by students from ONU's Smull College of Engineering.

The rover seats two, can travel at 10 miles per hour, and includes authentic accessories like an antenna and tool storage. The Museum plans to use the vehicle for rover outreach engagements, for special events, and to participate in parades.

"It's amazing that we will now have this realistic and working vehicle for outreach events. I don't know how many other museums can drive their own lunar rovers," said Chris Burton, executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. "Hopefully, this rover will inspire the next generation of engineers and astronauts to pursue their dreams in science, technology, engineering, and math."

"I would hope that seeing a project like this would inspire young kids in some way," said Alec Flemming, an ONU senior mechanical engineering major from Powell, Ohio. "If they're interested in math or science, they might say, 'This is really cool. Maybe I could do this some day.'"

The project posed numerous problems for the Ohio Northern team. NASA designed the lunar rover for use on the Moon, in 1/6 of Earth's gravity. The museum's rover would, of course, have to operate in 1G. Tires of wire mesh could support the reduced weight on the Moon, but would not suffice for streets on Earth. The University's student project manager and team members needed to address each issue to balance physics, financial considerations, authenticity, and other real-world limitations.

"I hope the people who encounter the rover are able to experience exactly what the astronauts felt," said Eric Dicke, an ONU senior mechanical engineering major from New Bremen, Ohio. "We tried to make it aesthetically as close to the actual rover as we possibly could."

Twenty-three Ohio Northern students spent more than 3,000 documented hours on the project. The project spanned six consecutive semesters and involved students in mechanical, electrical, computer, and civil engineering as well as the college's new engineering education major. The rover cost an estimated $19,000 to build, with funds and materials provided by ONU's Archer Memorial Fund, the Ohio Space Grant Consortium, and Polaris Industries.

The lunar rover will join its cousin "Curio" at the Museum. Almost exactly three years ago, the University delivered a 1:4 scale working model of Curiosity, the rover currently exploring Mars.

Ohio Northern University has a 93 percent job and graduate school placement rate. Its long-standing success is partly because of excellent professors, partly because of ambitious students, and partly because the University has always been rooted in the future. At ONU, students move toward a career long before they graduate and ONU's alumni successes prove it. With top-ranked programs and opportunities outside the classroom, any path a student chooses at ONU will be grounded in concrete applications for the future. Established in 1871 and comprised of five colleges (Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Pharmacy, and Law), ONU's beautiful residential campus is made up of more than sixty modern residences and academic buildings and provides a vibrant campus experience.

Students in the T.J. Smull College of Engineering at Ohio Northern are improving the world by finding new ways to design, build and use technology. The college is ranked among the top 50 undergraduate engineering schools in the nation, and its engineering education major is one of the first of its kind. Students at ONU receive experiential, hands-on learning in small-classroom settings with dedicated, accessible professors. The college's model starts with people, and it builds educational experiences around the individual needs of each. Beyond analytical skills, the college embraces the human skills its students need as professionals and as people how to communicate successfully, develop personal relationships, and effectively lead a team.

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