College of Engineering & Mines

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Dig this: UND team places with top honors at NASA challenge

Students work on a lunar excavation robot in a simulation environment
The Lunabotics team works on their lunar excavation robot in a simulation environment. Photo courtesy of John Nordlie.

Mechanical and electrical engineering students excel in lunar excavation competition

The University of North Dakota’s Lunabotics Team has once again demonstrated their exceptional problem-solving skills and dedication as they secured remarkable achievements at this year’s annual Lunabotics Challenge, organized by NASA. The student-led team clinched the second runner-up position, earning recognition for their ingenuity and technical expertise.

Comprised of students exclusively from the College of Engineering & Mines, the UND Lunabotics Team showcased the collaborative prowess of 13 members:


Senior Mechanical Engineering Students: Matt Boston (President), Shawn Cvetezar, Peter Nikrin, Gabriel Schettler, Naman Shah, Estephanie Yost

Senior Electrical Engineering Students: Kevin Jordan, Samuel Sondreal

Grad Student Advisors/Team Members: John Merila, Ian Picklo

Other Students: Caden Knutsvig (Vice President), AJ Ash, Ian Graves, Cheyenne Harrison, Nicholas Snyder


Under the guidance of their advisors, John Nordlie, an instructor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS), and Dr. Jeremiah Neubert, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the UND Lunabotics Team has consistently displayed their mettle in the competition since its inception in 2010.

The judges were captivated by the team’s compelling narrative and creative approach through their captivating ‘proof of life’ video, which secured them third place in the video contest. Narrated by Caden Knutsvig, the team’s Vice President, the video showcased their meticulous attention to detail and highlighted the importance of their project.



Caden’s leadership within the team has not gone unnoticed; he has been elected President of the Lunabotics Team for the upcoming year, a role that will undoubtedly benefit from his commitment.

Matthew Boston, the current President of the Lunabotics Team, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the entire team, advisors, the university, and their generous sponsors. He acknowledged the collaborative effort and unwavering support that enabled the team to complete their robot successfully.

“I would like to thank the team, advisors, college, and sponsors for helping the team complete the robot.”

Team members look at their lunar excavation robot functioning inside a simulated environment
Team members watch over their robot as it demonstrates its excavation capabilities. Photo courtesy of John Nordlie.

The Lunabotics Challenge, a part of NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges, is an invaluable platform for students to engage with NASA’s Systems Engineering process and gain hands-on experience designing and constructing robotic Lunar excavators. For over a decade, this prestigious competition has allowed students to contribute to NASA’s mission of returning to the Moon through the Artemis program by gathering vital data on excavation hardware and surface locomotion processes.

The University of North Dakota’s Lunabotics Team’s achievement showcases their technical prowess and exemplifies the power of collaboration, innovation, and perseverance. Their success is a testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to STEM education and the remarkable potential of its students.


Written by Paige Prekker  //  UND College of Engineering & Mines