Kerala students to compete in designing a rover for Mars mission

By Anusha

Kerala students all set for the Mars mission


New Delhi / Kochi, March 23: If all goes well, the Mars exploration mission of the US in the near future will have a rover designed by a team of engineering students from the Toc-H Institute of Science and Technology (TIST) in Kerala.

This is for the first time that students of an engineering college in Kerala have been selected for competing in the University Rover Challenge (URC) in the US to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers that will one day work alongside human explorers in the field.
Apart from the URC 2014, the five-member team from TIST at Arakkunam near here will also compete with students from across the world in the prestigious international aeronautical contest - CanSat - in the US. The purpose of the CanSat is to mimic the functions of an actual satellite, and thus it is an intertwining of various fields of engineering.

While the CanSat competition will be held in Texas in June, the URC will be held at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the remote barren desert of southern Utah in May 2014. The URC is the world's premier robotics competition for college students.

TIST is among 31 university teams in the URC representing six countries: the US, India, Egypt, Poland, Canada and Bangladesh; and the team will compete with students from prestigious institutions including Yale University, Cornell University and the Warsaw University of Technology.
It is for the second consecutive year that a team from TIST has been selected for the CanSat, which is being organised by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) and American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) in association with NASA, Naval Research Laboratory (USA), Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp and PRAXIS Inc.

The competitions are the most prestigious platforms for the world's brightest students from universities and colleges across the world to showcase space-related systems they have conceptualised and built. The TIST team is the first ever from Kerala to be selected for both the competitions.

"We are extremely happy to announce that our students have been selected to participate in the prestigious competition for the second time. We are the only college from Kerala participating for the same. The participating team comprising five members is named CHRONOS. The team will exhibit their academic, technical and managerial skills at the competition," said TIST Director Dr V Job Kuruvilla.

In fact, the TIST has established an Innovations and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (IEDC) to promote innovative talents and nurture entrepreneurship among students.

The five members of the CHRONOS team are: Muhammed Juhaim Ibnu Abdul Jabbar, PV Abimanyu Nair, Jibin Jose, Anoop Nayak and Joseph Stephen. The team's faculty advisors are Kiran George Varghese and Shajan K Thomas.

"Our college has been extending all support to our scientific endeavours. We got selected for the competitions after our designs were scrutinised and selected by the two organising committees in the US. We are very thrilled," said student Muhammed Juhaim Ibnu Abdul Jabbar.

Both Juhaim and Jibin Jose have their own ventures at the Government-backed Startup Village technology business incubator set up to promote young IT entrepreneurs.
The CanSat competition gives the students an opportunity to be involved in an end-to-end life cycle of a complex engineering project from conceptual design through integration, test and actual operation of the system.
The mission this year is to simulate the delivery of a sensor payload to a planet's surface. The students will design a system consisting of a two primary components - the payload (a large egg) and a re-entry container to protect it. It will be deployed from the rocket, the payload released from the container and land safely with the sensor (egg) intact. All operations will be autonomously done by the CanSat.

The URC was launched in 2006, with competitions being held every summer since 2007.  The URC consistently draws an international field of the most talented and promising students from around the globe.

For more details about Team Chronos visit

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