HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Speeding across a simulated lunar surface, the Rochester Institute of Technology of Rochester, N.Y., rumbled to victory in the college division of NASA’s 14th annual Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville, Ala.

Finishing with the fastest time in a field of 22 college teams from across the continental United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, they raced their original moonbuggy design at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the annual host of the race.

Sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corp., the Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by the original lunar rovers that traversed the moon during the last three Apollo missions in the early 1970s. Since 1994, the Great Moonbuggy Race has inspired tomorrow’s engineers with the annual design and racing competition that takes place adjacent to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, where engineers built and tested those first lunar rovers.

The challenge faced by the students is similar to that faced by the original lunar-rover engineers – create a vehicle that is compact, light, flexible, durable and able to withstand the rigors of the grueling lunar surface. For today’s students, the hands-on experience may inspire them to pursue careers in math, science and engineering and could lead them to participate in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration of returning to the moon, reaching Mars and destinations beyond.

The Rochester Institute of Technology team finished the course in four minutes and 38 seconds, nine seconds ahead of the second-place team from the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao. Pittsburg State University of Pittsburg, Kan., finished in third place.

The Rochester Institute of Technology team received a cash prize from Northrop Grumman and a trophy depicting NASA’s original lunar rover vehicle. The second- and third-place teams received plaques honoring their achievement, and individual members of all three teams received medals.

The award for “Best Design” went to the Pittsburg State University for best solving the engineering problem of navigating the lunar surface. Murray State University of Murray, Ky., was awarded “Most Unique Buggy” in the college division. A special “Pits Crew Award” for ingenuity and persistence in overcoming problems during the race was won by Morningside College of Sioux City, Iowa. Carleton University of Ontario, Canada, was recognized for braving the most spectacular crash on the brutal, “lunar” terrain.

The University of Utah in Salt Lake City earned the “Rookie Award” for posting the fastest first-year time in the competition and also won a special safety systems award. The “Most Improved” award went to returning race competitors from Pittsburg State University.

Other college racers, listed alphabetically by state, were Alabama A & M University in Huntsville; Southern Illinois University in Carnbondale, Ill.; the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ill.; Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, In.; Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.; Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio; Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio; Cameron University in Lawton, Okla.; the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga; Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn.; Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro; the University of Tennessee in Knoxville; Tennessee Technology University in Cookeville; and the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

In the high school division race Friday, the Huntsville Center for Technology of Huntsville, Ala., outraced 25 teams with a time of three minutes and 34 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of the second-place team, which also hailed from the Huntsville Center for Technology. Lafayette County C-1 in Higginsville, Mo., finished in third place

The moonbuggy racing tradition began in 1994 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Eight college teams participated that first year, and in 1996 the race was expanded to include high school teams.

Many volunteers from both the Marshall Center and the space industry ensure the success of the event. This was the second year Northrop Grumman Corp. sponsored the Great Moonbuggy Race. Other contributors included the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); ATK Launch Systems, Inc.; CBS affiliate WHNT Channel 19 of Huntsville; Jacobs Technology; Morgan Research Corp.; Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC); the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the System Safety Society Inc.; and the United Space Alliance, LLC.

For photos of the top-finishing high school teams, visit the Marshall Newsroom at:

For more event details, race rules, and information on the course, visit:

For more information about NASA and the Vision for Space Exploration, visit: