The Trinidad State Junior College’s Robotics Program began in the fall of 2009 with the ambition of entering into the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s Great Sand Dunes Robotics Challenge (http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/statewideprograms/robotics-challenge). This challenge requires a team of students to design and build an autonomous robot able to navigate several courses at the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. After months of intense work, the team produced their first robot, Whiskers. Despite it being a mess of wires and duct tape and covered in multiple Parallax BOE-Bot boards, Whiskers successfully finished the first course, heading north and navigating through fine sand. Whiskers was one of only two surviving robots out of 26 entries from all the other four-year colleges and universities in Colorado. It marked the beginning of a legacy. During the next several years, each robot outperformed the previous one. In 2014, our robot named ALLEN became the first robot in Colorado to finish all six courses presented at Great Sand Dunes Robotics Challenge. In 2016, the robot SABLE became the first robot in Colorado to complete the six courses and succeed in an extra-credit challenge where she was to locate, pick up, and return an orange golf ball (hidden among other colored golf balls). Last year, we upped the game and created our first large rover, CLOEE, which caught the attention of NASA themselves. We were invited to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to test CLOEE in their Mars Yard. We had great success and gained valuable knowledge there.
This year we are going to the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. This location has similar terrain to the planet Mars. Future astronauts are trained at this habitat due to its similarities to the red planet. The international University Rover Challenge also takes place here which is where we will be testing our rover.
Our rover is named Scout-E (Sample Collecting Optical Ultimate Terrain Explorer). Scout-E and CLOEE are very similar in design. Both have six wheels and independent suspension (also known as a rocker bogie suspension). The two have a robotic arm that is utilized in the collecting of rocks and other samples. Also, both host various sensors and cameras to assist the rovers and the team at Mission Control with the various tasks. However, Scout-E is much more advanced than any other previous robot we have done. For the University Rover Challenge, Scout-E will be expected to locate and pick up samples. In addition, our rover must be versatile enough to turn knobs, open doors, and use different tools all while navigating the Mars-like terrain. Scout-E will be almost entirely autonomous and will be able to locate and pick up samples by itself. Mission Control will control the movement of the rover itself and view live video feed from the rover’s cameras.
In order to complete our challenge this year, we need additional financial support. Our goal is to raise $10,000. This will be used to pay for parts we need and traveling expenses. This opportunity to go to the Mars Desert Research Station will allow us to get a look at what the future for going to Mars may look like as well as witness some of the world’s best robots in action. Any amount of support will be greatly appreciated. Click on the Donate Now button or send your check payable to the TSJC Educational Foundation, 600 Prospect St., Trinidad, CO 81082. Please reference TSJC Robotics in the memo line of the check.
Click here to donate
We have been getting several inquiries on what to do if you want to give to our program with a check rather than through the Colorado Gives site.
If you would prefer to send a check…Please send the check to
TSJC Robotics team
c/o TSJC Foundation
600 Prospect St,
Trinidad, Co 81082
and please write TSJC robotics on that check …otherwise it may end up elsewhere!!!
The robotics team