Saddleback College's SC Robotics team finished 20th out of 104 teams which competed in the 2023 University Rover Challenge (URC), the world's premier robotics competition for college students.
SC Robotics, whose rover was named "Helios," was one of 37 teams from the 104 total entrants to advance out of the preliminary rounds and qualify for the URC finals, held May 31-June 3 at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. The URC website states the Mars Desert Research Station is “one of the most extreme and Mars-like environments on Earth.”
URC challenges teams to design and build a rover for simulated extraterrestrial terrain to help develop the next generation of Mars exploration vehicles. The 2023 competition marked the second consecutive year SC Robotics advanced to the URC finals.
Members of the SC Robotics team included Jacob Feingold, Team Leader; Renee Le and Laura Johann, Science Leads; Liam Kerrigan, Mechanical Lead; Jasper Doan, Programming Lead; and Andrew George, Business Lead.
Dr. Elliot Stern, President of Saddleback College said, “We are very proud of our students and grateful to their coaches for being the only community college invited to compete at the University Rover Challenge and for ranking above globally recognized polytechnics and other prestigious universities in the finals. Saddleback has world class faculty and brilliant students who prove, every day, that this is not your father’s community college.”
In addition to finishing 20th overall against four-year university competitors including Cornell, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Oklahoma, SC Robotics finished an impressive 13th in the technically demanding Science mission, one of the four missions (Science, Extreme Delivery, Equipment Servicing, and Autonomous Navigation) each team and their rover participated in at the URC finals.
West Virginia University's Team Mountaineers were the URC champions, with Australia's Monash University runner-up and Brigham Young University third.
Trustee Marcia Milchiker of the South Orange County Community College District attended the special event and said, "The students worked incredibly hard to earn the ranking and recognition at this year's University Rover Challenge, it was truly a collaborative effort. I was proud to join them on this very unique trip and rigorous academic journey. The rankings reaffirm what the Board of Trustees already knows ... our students are among the best in the world."
The volunteer advisors for SC Robotics were Saddleback Professor Mitch Haeri, who advised in astronomy and physics, Saddleback Professor Jim Repka who advised in geology, and Trustee Milchiker, who advised in science and biology.
To view the SC Robotics video about Helios and the rover's specifications submitted as part of URC's team entry process, please click here.