Montana Tech is the home of the 2017 TeamOredigger, on its way to the 2017 NASA Robotic Mining Competition.  This team is made up of students at Montana Tech from Metallurgical, Software, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering plus others.

The team is having a heck of a lot of fun designing and building.  In May you can watch them dig our way against about 40 other universities.

The basic competition is to move Martian simulant called rigolith from one end of the arena to the other using a robot.  The robot can be no larger than 1.5×0.75×0.75m and weigh no more than 80kg.

In previous years TeamOredigger has done very well as far as the competition is concerned.  Currently the team is working on making a lighter frame, automating the entire system and improving the paper submissions.  With these three improvements the team will be a major contender at the 2017n competition.

You can watch the robot compete in last years competition here.

The team is led by Luke Suttey, a graduate student in Metallurgy.  The team is mentored and advised by Dr. Bryce Hill, an assistant professor in Electrical Engineering.


You can donate right now to the Montana Tech NASA Robotic Mining Club.  Donations are tax-deductible through the Montana Tech Foundation 501C3.  

Right now we need help getting our team to Florida for the competition.  If you are a business owner we will feature your name on our shirts and robot if you donate.

It takes about $1000 per student to travel to Florida for the week.  We intend to bring about 15 students on the trip so every little bit of support we get from you helps.

We also hold fundraisers.  No matter how big or how small your donation is, there is a way for you to contribute.

We also accept gifts-in-kind for building the robot, or items that we can be donated for fundraisers.  However you can help, we appreciate it.

Donate NOW!

Videos and Pictures

Day 1 KSC

Monday morning we packed out the robot to Kennedy Space Center (KS) at 7 am.  We were one of the first teams to arrive.  We setup our station and as always everything started to fall apart. The conveyor belt tore, the motor controller broke a wire, and code started throwing bits unexpectedly. With all of …

About the Competiton

The NASA Robotic Mining Competition is an annual competition held at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. The competition is held in mid to late May. Typically forty universities from the United States participate.

The goal of the competition is to design, build and compete with a robot that can move fine powdery material called regolith.  This material serves as a simulant for the material found on Mars.  The robots are to move as much as possible from one end of the arena to the other in a ten minute period.  The robots have to fit within constraints outlined in the rules.  Examples of this are fitting into a 0.75×0.75×1.5 m box upon deployment.  The robot must weigh less than 80kg.  Total weight counts against other points scored.

The purpose of this competition lies in what you would want to mine on Mars.  For right now what is important is water.  Below the surface of mars lies water in the form of ice.  Though it would be tempting to think that the ice would be used for drinking water, it is really needed for rocket fuel.  Before humans can be sent to Mars, enough fuel needs to be collected to return them safely from Mars to earth.  The way that this would need to be done is by a robot, slowly collecting the icy gravel rock by rock.  Solar panels would then generate the electricity necessary to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen and thus rocket fuel.

Rules and more information can be found here.


If you have questions about our club, donating, or future events feel free to contact us.

You can email us here.