ROBOT Magazine Spotlights WPI-sponsored Winner of NASA Moondust Excavation Challenge

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ROBOT magazine has published a four-page spread in its March/April 2010 edition that features Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) robotics engineering major Paul Ventimigilia and his team, who landed a first-place, $500,000 victory last fall in NASA's Regolith Excavation Challenge.

The team -- Paul's Robotics -- which is primarily made up of WPI faculty, staff, students, and alumni, built and programmed an innovative robot named Moonraker 2.0, which was designed to collect and dump as much regolith (moondust) as possible within a 30-minute period. Paul's Robotics won the competition by collecting and dumping 967 lbs. of regolith, beating out 22 other teams from across the country for the top honor. The competition was held in October 2009 at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and was part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, which helps to inspire innovative solutions to technical challenges in the aerospace industry.

The Paul's Robotics team consists of Mike Ciaraldi, professor of practice in WPI's Computer Science Department and advisor to the Moonraker 2.0 project; Colleen Shaver BS '04, MS '08, manager of robotics initiatives at WPI; Brian Loveland '07; Jennifer Flynn '04; and Marc DeVidts, a software developer from Miami, Fla., who is the team's only non-WPI-affiliated member. WPI is the team's primary sponsor, with support from a number of the university's departments, including the offices of the Provost and President.