Trey Biddy’s love and talent for welding captured the attention of Southwestern Oklahoma State University professors. At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, instructors offered Biddy a spot on SWOSU’s award-winning NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge Team.
The annual competition encourages high school and college students from across the world to develop human-powered vehicles designed to navigate other planets and moons. SWOSU team sponsors selected 10 students to compete this year, and together, they placed 22nd at the competition held on April 12-13 in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Trey has been a great asset. He is our lead welder, and he is working on the frame design, drivetrain, seats, wheels and axels. He has been an awesome addition to our team,” said Cindi Albrightson, SWOSU Rover Challenge Team co-sponsor.
Albrightson and fellow SWOSU faculty member Brett Chase recruited Biddy due to his vast skill set and construction knowledge.
“I mainly work on fabrication, just making sure all the parts are the right size, cut in the right way and welded correctly,” Biddy said. “Then I also help a little bit with the gears and steering.”
He first picked up welding at the age of 16 in his hometown of Fort Cobb, Oklahoma, and honed the craft in high school at the Caddo Kiowa Technology Center.
After completing his basic collegiate courses, Biddy transferred from Redlands Community College in El Reno, Oklahoma, to SWOSU where he currently studies engineering technology.
“I wouldn’t probably be on the team if I didn’t go to Caddo Tech,” he explained. Biddy specializes in numerous methods including “TIG, stick, MIG, brazing, soldering — anything that involves melting metal together.”
The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge creates a simulated experience that encourages students to employ strategy and prepares them for a potential career in space exploration.
According to NASA’s website, “Just as in the Apollo 14 surface mission … teams have to make real-time decisions about which mission objectives to attempt and which to leave behind.”
Successful teams apply life skills — like problem solving and communication — to complete key obstacles before the six-minute simulated supply of oxygen runs out.
“I’ve learned a lot about how gears work and working with others in a situation like this,” Biddy explained. “When you have 10 people together, some ideas get rejected and some get approved. If it’s your idea that got rejected, you just have to act good about it.”
Teams earn points based on assembly, rover design, task accomplishments within the competition as well as pre and post-event requirements. Additionally, one male and one female from each group must traverse the course in the team’s rover. Groups receive two attempts to complete the obstacle course, and the highest score goes into the final calculations. SWOSU’s team experienced several setbacks during the competition, but the team regrouped and placed 22nd.
“I love seeing their faces when we accomplish a goal,” Albrightson said. “More importantly, we strive to be ethical in our race. We follow all the rules and do our best with everything we do. I remind them often that we are representing our family, our school, our hometown and each other. I tell them I would rather lose ethically than win unethically.”
Biddy recently accepted an internship with Gore Nitrogen Pumping Service LLC headquartered in Seiling, Oklahoma, and he looks forward to learning more about a potential career as a hydraulic fracturing engineer.
“It will all be out in the field, mainly in western Oklahoma, but some in Texas and maybe Kansas,” he said.
On top of coursework at SWOSU, the internship and participation on the SWOSU NASA Rover team, Biddy is a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and holds a part-time position at Testco Inc. in Watonga, Oklahoma. He strives to build as much first-hand industry experience as possible.
“I would like to get on as an engineer for an oil and gas company, and hopefully end up one day being a company man — running the production side of things in the oil industry,” he said.
Although his busy schedule makes it challenging to attend Tribal events like the Family Reunion Festival, Biddy hopes to connect after completing his degree.
Learn more about the event and SWOSU’s NASA Rover Team here, cpn.news/swosurover.