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NASA Centennial Challenges
TouchTomorrow was originally launched in celebration of WPI’s designation as host of NASA’s Sample Return Robot Challenge. The Sample Return Robot Challenge was designed by WPI in 2012 and marked the very first time a college campus hosted a NASA Centennial Challenge. Like all Centennial Challenges, it promotes technological innovations that could aid in NASA’s mission and work—in this case the development of a new generation of autonomous planetary rovers to explore diverse landscapes.
NASA Centennial Challenges encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies that may improve NASA’s capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation’s robotic technology for use in industries and applications here on Earth. Although the Sample Return Robot Challenge is no longer part of the annual festivities, its spirit lives on through the TouchTomorrow annual festival.
Robotics at WPI
A leader in robotics research and education at all levels, NASA chose WPI in 2012 as the first and only college to host a NASA Centennial Challenge. WPI not only created the first bachelor’s degree in robotics in the nation but also regularly manages robotics competitions, is on the cutting-edge of robotics research and technology, and sponsors a wide variety of programs that foster the use of robots to solve societal problems.