PRISM robotics teams pose in a lecture hall at UH Hilo accompanied by PISCES Staff.

The first annual PISCES Robotic International Space Mining competition concluded today (July 26, 2104) with an awards ceremony at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, announcing the winning teams and runner-ups for three categories following a week-long contest that made Hawaii home to the first event of its kind.

West Virginia University (WVU) came out on top, taking first place in the categories of ‘Best in Mining’ and ‘Best in Operations’, followed by Iowa State University (ISU) taking first place for the ‘Best in Design/Innovation’ category.

Team members from Kapiolani Community College (KCC), the University of Alabama (UA), University of New Hampshire (UNH), University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), WVU, and ISU, accompanied judges, family, friends, and PISCES staff at the honorary event that included food, drink, laughter, and applause.


WVU Team Members won First Place in the categories of ‘Best in Mining’ and ‘Best in Operations’.

The results for the competition were as follows:

Category of ‘Best in Mining’

  1. West Virginia University – 517 kg (1139.79 lbs)
  2. Iowa State University – 498.6 kg (1099.22 lbs)
  3. University of New Hampshire – 218.1 kg (480.83 lbs)

Category of ‘Best in Design/Innovation’

  1. Iowa State University
  2. University of Alabama
  3. Kapiolani Community College

Category of ‘Best in Operations’

  1. West Virginia University


    ISU Team Members holding their Award Certificate for ‘Best in Design/Innovation”.

  2. University of Alabama
  3. University of New Hampshire

UAF received the honorary Frank Schowengerdt award (named after the founding director of PISCES), an outstanding ‘catch-all’ category recognizing team Alaska’s ‘Aloha spirit’ and ‘kokua’ throughout the competition.

Runner-up teams in the Operations category overcame challenging odds to achieve their placement.  UA lost power in one of their robot’s wheels, operating on “three-wheel drive,” while UNH faced network connectivity issues from the control room after their router began spewing smoke.

ISU won the Design/Innovation award for their robot’s efficient movement, effective mining capability, and adjustable track suspension.

PISCES Test Logistics and EPO (Education and Public Outreach) Manager John Hamilton, who spearheaded and coordinated the competition, expressed his appreciation to the teams and participants following video highlights recapping the week-long event.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming here and making history,” Hamilton said.

PRISM intends to continue making history next year, with teams from other countries anticipated to compete in Hawaii for the second annual competition.