Bevill State Community College will have two teams at the annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race on April 13-14.
On Tuesday, students in Maurice Ingle’s drafting design engineering technology course at the Bevill State Sumiton campus were building two moonbuggies that they had designed.
This is the third year Ingle’s students have competed in the race. She likes having her students enter the event so they can learn real-world skills.
“I want them to see what it’s like to design something that really works,” she said. Ingle believes in letting her students do the hands-on work, while she guides and gives advice as needed.
The project also involves two other departments at the Sumiton campus: Machine shop and welding.
Student Herschel Jones was putting slots in a moveable drive shaft this week in the machine shop. The moonbuggy team was waiting on the drive shaft to be finished so the students could move on to the next step.
Jones’ instructor, Tim Holt, appreciates the opportunity for his students to help with the project.
“It’s practical work, something they could encounter when they leave here and get a real job,” Holt said.
In the welding shop, instructor Eric Fuller has assigned student Jonathan Chamness to do any welding work the moonbuggy teams need. Fuller said it is good for his students to learn to read prints and to build according to specifications.
Ingle said the assistance of the other departments is invaluable to the moonbuggy project.
This year, 93 teams have signed up for the competition, including three community colleges and five colleges from Alabama. Of the total teams, 49 are colleges or universities and the rest are high school teams. Each school can enter a maximum of two buggies.
One of Bevill State’s buggies for this year’s competition was used last year and the students are revamping it with a different steering system.
“We junkyard a lot of stuff,” said Ingle. She said the students, especially the first time Bevill entered the contest three years ago, built their moonbuggies mostly from scrap.
However, the other vehicle they are entering this year is made from all new materials.
Entering the competition comes at a price and Ingle’s students work hard to fund the project.
They conduct fundraisers such as selling Boston butts, bracelets and store coupons to purchase all of the materials needed for the moonbuggies.
“It’s hard to do a lot of fundraising when we need to be working on the moonbuggies,” Ingle said.
The project also relies heavily on grants and corporate donations. Last year and this year, Ingle’s department received an Alabama Space grant worth $5,000. They also received help from various businesses in the area.
However, Ingle said the program needs about $5,000 more this year to complete the project.
To donate, call the Sumiton campus at 205-648-3271.