Andrez Leyva is a sophomore in pre-engineering from New Mexico who plans to get a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He’s also a member of the Trojan Men’s Soccer Team. “So I’m trying to get the best of both. I want to play soccer and get into mechanical engineering,” said Leyva.
While in Washington, Leyva will get a chance to the see the sights, network with other students and meet with representatives from other colleges at the National Council of Space Grant Director’s Spring Meeting in Arlington, VA. Tuesday he met with representatives of Congress in support of funding for NASA’s Space Grant program.
Leyva expects to find many robot lovers at this conference. “A lot of the people there are going to be affiliated with robotics programs.” He’s interested in schools in New Mexico, as well as Colorado, Texas and California.
He is the lead mechanical student on the Trinidad State Robotics Team. The robot will perform at the Great Sand Dunes National Park at NASA’s Robot Challenge on April 5. The robot will have to navigate, by itself, through a course made up of rocks, holes and other obstacles on the super-fine sand that is found at the park. The course is designed to resemble what a robot might encounter on Mars. The idea is to push the robots to the limit. Last year there were six increasingly difficult challenges and the Trinidad State entry conquered the first five before failing on number six.
This year’s entry is already operational, though currently it operates only under the command of a student using a wired remote. In the next few weeks the guidance system will be installed and tested in the “Bot Pit” behind the Davis Building on the Trinidad State Campus.