Media & Press

From Lectures to the Lunar Surface

1 May, 2019

Peter Matthews

Helping to design a lunar rover for the Canadian Space Agency isn’t what you might expect to do during your first year of an engineering program, but that’s exactly what I got to do in my first year of university.

At Queen’s, teams of first-year engineering students get the opportunity to work with a real client on a design project during our second semester. These clients can be the university’s design teams, local businesses and charities, and even national companies or organizations. For my project, my team was one among six paired with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). We were tasked with developing a proof-of-concept design for an anchoring system to stabilize a lunar rover on crater slopes.

After examining several possible solutions, we decided to base our lunar anchor on a helical design, a type of anchor already used here on Earth. We used an iterative process to design our anchor, which involved testing 3D printed scale models of the anchor and modifying the design based on the test results. Each week, we had a video conference with an engineer at the CSA to discuss our progress and the next steps in the project.

At the end of the semester, the CSA came to Queen’s so each team could present its design and perform testing with a mock lunar rover. Having the opportunity to work on such an interesting project with a high-profile client was a fantastic introduction to engineering design.

I’m incredibly grateful to the Schulich Leader Scholarships, as without their support I would never have attended Queen’s and gained this experience.