NASA Robotic Mining Competiton

I’m wondering if any FIRST alumni or mentors are involved in the college level NASA Robotic Mining Competiton? Bison Robotics from NDSU is signing up for next year, and I’m interested to hear what FIRSTers think of the competition.

I am a senior high school student this year, but I came across this competition at Case Western Reserve a few weeks ago during a college visit. From what I’ve heard, it seems like an interesting change from FIRST, given that you can spend all year designing a robot that you prepare for a competition where the field and rules are unknown until you get there. I suppose if the opportunity arises in college I may join a team.

I worked heavily with the Iowa State team for 2012 and 2013, it is a fun change of pace from the typical FRC year.

If you do it I urge you to push your comfort zone some, you don’t have to stick to a KOP, use the freedom, you don’t have to adhere to the FRC norms.


Ditto (SDSM&T Moonrockers, 2012). The only FRC stuff we used was 775s on the drive–independent. I saw quite a few FRC-type control components, though!

Not on our team, but our programming mentor participates in the DARPA robotics challenge and he (with a team) built a fully autonomous Nissan Xterra (car) that finished 13th out of 196 teams in the Grand Challenge, and now a robot that can travel into disaster sites and perform certain actions (

Is Iowa State still part of the program? I’m going to be a freshman there next semester.

Yes they are and they’re really good. Thanks everybody for the comments so far!

Yes, ISU still has a team for the competition. I was heavily involved with the team from 2012-2014 and found it to be a great competition. The things I learned and the people I met ended up getting me a job in the mechanical engineering machine shop on campus. I would say the best part of the competition is getting to meet all the volunteers for the competition. They have people from all over the US fly in and help out, people who are experts in the field of resource utilization and space in general. Getting to talk first hand with the people who are working on such awesome technology is really rewarding in and of itself.

Another great opportunity is the University Rover Challenge hosted by the Mars Society. There is a very challenging terrain navigation task and engineering challenge.

There are quite a few FIRST alumni on some of the teams that have participated. The Missouri S&T team was even at CMP last year.

One of the advantages of these competitions is the tasks don’t change like FIRST. This is great in a college-level environment because you can work on refining your concepts over the limited time you have in college.

My wife thinks some of you guys should build an underwater mining robot to go up to Nome Alaska and mine for Bearing Sea gold.