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The Regional Moonbuggy Competition: A Unique, Year Long Outreach Program To High School Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

K-12 Engineering Outreach Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1456.1 - 12.1456.12



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Paper Authors


James Rogers Murray State University

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JAMIE ROGERS is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics at Murray State University. He is also director of the West Kentucky Regional Moonbuggy Competition. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2002. His engineering education research includes the use of emerging technology to enhance instruction, K-12 outreach, and engineering activities for freshman.

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Steve Cobb Murray State University

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STEPHEN COBB is professor and chairman of the Department Engineering and Physics at Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Georgia Tech in 1988, and he holds registration as a Professional Engineer. His interests include issues in physics and engineering education, and he presently serves as an officer in the Physics & Engineering Physics Division of ASEE. He a curricular consultant for physics and engineering physics programs nationally and abroad.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Regional Moonbuggy Competition: A Unique, Year-Long Outreach Program to High School Students


This paper describes an innovative and unique engineering outreach activity that is the first of its kind. Not only does this activity encourage high school students to consider engineering as a career path, but it also enables the students to work within an interdisciplinary and gender- inclusive team in order to solve a realistic engineering design problem.

The West Kentucky Regional Moonbuggy Competition, which is going into its third year, is the first-ever regional moonbuggy competition based on the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race. In this program, high school students and faculty in math, science, engineering and engineering technology classes are challenged to design and build a human-powered vehicle that addresses a series of engineering problems similar to problems faced by the original designers of the rovers used on the Apollo missions. In order to facilitate this learning experience, two workshops are held for the participants and the culmination of the project is a grueling endurance race over simulated lunar terrain including craters, rocks, inclines and loose soil constructed on the campus of Murray State University.

This paper includes the specifics for organizing and funding such an event including strategies on making such a large-scale event affordable for the schools. Furthermore, results of faculty surveys detail their impressions on how they and their students were impacted by this program.

Given the details of this K-12 outreach program, it is the author’s hope that the readers will be motivated to develop similar outreach activities on their campuses. Whether they choose to organize a moonbuggy competition, collaborate with other national design challenges, or design their own activity, they will be better equipped to fund, organize, and assess a large-scale outreach activity for K-12 students and faculty.


The need for engineering outreach into the K-12 curricula has been well-documented for several years. Engineering outreach into high schools is an important part of K-12 outreach as high school is a time when students make important curricular decisions in order to prepare themselves for postsecondary education. Consequently, engineering outreach activities that motivate students to choose college-preparatory courses appropriate for engineering such as physics and calculus while also developing decision making and teamwork skills are vital.

However, brainstorming, organizing, marketing, funding, and delivering, effective K-12 outreach activities can be an enormous task. The purpose of this paper is to provide some insight into some strategies in each of these planning areas in the context of a large-scale, year-long outreach activity.

Rogers, J., & Cobb, S. (2007, June), The Regional Moonbuggy Competition: A Unique, Year Long Outreach Program To High School Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1478

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015