UNM’s Swarmathon a finalist for Airbus diversity award

October 29, 2018 - By Kendall Tipton

UNM Swarmathon photo

The University of New Mexico’s NASA Swarmathon is one of three international finalists for the 2018 Airbus GEDC Diversity Award.

The 2018 award will be given to the project that demonstrates the best use of technology to enhance diversity in engineering education and will be announced at the 2018 World Engineering Education Forum-Global Engineering Deans Council (WEEF-GEDC) conference in Albuquerque, which will be held Nov. 11-16.

Representatives of the three finalist projects will present their initiatives to an expert jury at the 2018 WEEF-GEDC conference, and the winning project will be announced at a gala dinner at the conference on Nov. 13.

The winning project team will be awarded $10,000 to support the continuation of their work. The two runners up will each receive $1,500 to support further communication about their initiatives.

NASA Swarmathon, a project directed by computer science professor Melanie Moses, takes the concept of swarm robotics and tasks students with using their computing and programming skills construct and operate a robot to maneuver resources into a collection zone.

"It is wonderful to have the hard work and accomplishments of the Swarmathon students recognized by an international aerospace leader,” Moses said. “To successfully explore beyond our world will require the creativity and engineering talents of all of us here on earth. Airbus funding will help the diverse community of Swarmathon students to soar to new heights."

The competition is funded by NASA Education and is held throughout the year, ending with a three-day tournament held at Kennedy Space Center. In the first three years that the contest was held, over 1,500 students participated, with 63 percent of those students coming from ethnic and racial groups that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines.

The other projects in the competition are from Chile and Hong Kong.

The Airbus GEDC Diversity Award is an award that awards recipients for technology usage to enhance diversity in engineering education. The ultimate goal of the award is to foster diversity in the global community, specifically through advancements that are made in the field of engineering.