A team of students representing the University of Tennessee finished third

in a weekend "moon buggy" race at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Teams representing 11 colleges and high schools from across the country

participated in the event, racing their machines modeled after the NASA

lunar roving vehicle used by astronauts to travel the Moon's surface.

"The most exciting part of the project was starting out with a concept

and seeing it through, seeing something actually come off the paper and

there it is in front of you," Chad Davis, a senior in aerospace at

UT who participated in the event, said in a press release.

"I love aerospace," he said. "I've always had a fascination

for it. That's what attracted me to this project."

Competitors navigated their vehicles over a simulated lunar surface,

a half-mile course of lava ridges, craters and sand pits.

Each two-member team, one male and one female, carried their moon buggy,

in its disassembled state, 20 feet to the starting line. When a signal was

given, the team assembled its human-powered vehicle and raced the course.

"The Moon Buggy Race is a challenging, hands-on experience for students

that combines creative engineering, teamwork and the spirit of competition,"

said race coordinator Jim Dowdy, university relations officer at NASA's

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

"And it's a learning experience," he said. "Regardless

of how well a team performed, all the participants learn about resolving

engineering problems and about the engineering challenges of the space program."

The UT students who participated were: Luciana Abe, Stephen Ajets, Chad

Davis, Ken Frazier, Doug Ferguson, J.B. Glass, Ed Gorney, Matt Hall, Jonathan

Huber, J.P. Lutterloh, Sarah Nichols and Natalie Taylor

The College of New Jersey, in Ewing, and Pittsburg State University,

Pittsburg, Kan., finished first and second, respectively, in the competition.

The New Jersey team's finish earned its members a trip to NASA's Kennedy

Space Center in Florida to view a space shuttle launch.

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