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Harrisburg, PA – The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HU) NASA Lunabotics team received an honorable mention as well as Best Presentation and Demonstration for a First-Year Team at the annual qualification event held earlier this month.

The NASA Lunabotics Challenge takes place at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida; the 2024 team trials were held May 15–17. The annual event provides university students the opportunity to apply the NASA systems engineering process to design, build, and operate a robot capable of performing specific tasks on Earth’s moon.

Out of more than 150 university applications sent from all over the United States, just 58 teams were chosen to compete. Of those, just 42 teams attended the qualifying event at Kennedy Space Center.

The team was able to leave a strong impression on the NASA judges, leaving the Sunshine State with two awards in hand:

  • The team received an Honorable Mention for their STEM Engagement Report, in which the team led outreach events on the HU campus with high school students from Steelton-Highspire and Central Dauphin East high schools. These events consisted of hands-on STEM activities and tours of HU’s Advanced Manufacturing (ADMA) facilities.
  • The team also took home the Presentations and Demonstrations First Steps Award for the best presentation by a first-year team.

HU’s small-but-mighty inaugural Lunabotics team was led on the faculty side by Richard Pitts, Jr., PhD (Program Lead for Advanced Manufacturing) and Cyprian Onyekachi Ekeagwu (Professor of Advanced Manufacturing), and on the student side by Tim Hainly (current ADMA major and Manufacturing Engineer with BAE Systems). The other students on the team were ADMA majors Ryan Bosley and Martin Johnson, and Computer Science major Hosly Perez.

This being HU’s first time competing in the NASA Lunabotics challenge makes the team’s accomplishments even more significant. Going up against bigger, better-funded universities with larger teams is a point of pride and a promising start to what will hopefully become a long-standing tradition of participation and success in the Lunabotics Challenge.

It may be the spark of competition that brings these teams to Merritt Island each year, but it’s the spirit of cooperation that most inspires Dr. Pitts. “We don’t do space activities by ourselves,” remarked Dr. Pitts. “There are a lot of countries, and when we’re in space we all work together. For some reason, space brings us all together.”

The ultimate goal is for this inaugural experience to pave the way for continued growth and engagement in the program, inspiring future cohorts of HU students to reach for the stars and make their mark in the field of space exploration. Harrisburg University would like to thank the Gene Haas Foundation for their recent and generous grant support, which helped fund this project.


Harrisburg University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a private, nonprofit university offering bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. For additional information about the University’s affordable, demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, please call 717-901-5146 or email Stay updated by following Harrisburg University on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.