WSU Everett Mars Rover Team Looking For Community Support

April 12, 2017

Everett, Everett Schools


Click to contribute to help the team get back to the competition in Utah this year. Photo courtesy WSUNPS

Last year they took second place and were the top American team in the University Rover Challenge. This year the team from WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture at the campus in Everett has set their eyes on the top prize.

A project of The Mars Society, the University Rover Challenge is considered the world’s premier robotics competition for college students. Held in the southern Utah desert for the past 10 years, the competition challenges students to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers that are one-day expected to work alongside human explorers on the surface of the Red Planet.

“I am so excited! It is an incredible feeling to earn a spot in the competition two years in a row, especially with the field this year being so big,” said Mitch Elder, a senior mechanical engineering student and president of the WSU Everett Engineering Club. The team will largely utilize the same rover they constructed for the competition last year, calling it simply Rover 2.1. However, they will face new challenges, which means making major upgrades.

“The greatest challenge this year is that the rover has to be autonomous in the terrain-traversal task, which means the rover has to drive itself,” Elder said. “We have a great team working on that, including electrical engineering students. Our team lead, Mark Walsh, is writing the code and leading the rewiring process. Then he is going to work on the automation. We have most of the hardware, so now it’s about getting everything coded.”

“We gained valuable experience from last year,” said Dr. Xiaopeng Bi, the faculty adviser for the WSU Everett Engineering Club. “The previous success set a high bar going into this year. Although motivating for the team, this also makes it much easier to get frustrated along the way, since everyone is likely expecting great success once again. I hope the students enjoy the flavor of innovation facing new challenges.”

Elder welcomed fellow students to join the team and be part of the experience. “If you’re in any way excited about what we’re doing and you’ve been on the fence about getting involved, get off the fence, get involved,” Elder said. “It’s such a fun experience to be a part of and it looks great on your resume. There’s plenty to do and we need people to do it!”

In order to participate, the engineering club has relied on industry donations of materials and money.

“I love our sponsors – I can’t thank them enough. Blue Origin made a financial donation that helped us get going when we had critical early purchases. Electroimpact was huge for us last year with a financial contribution. We wouldn’t have been able to travel to Utah without them.” Other material donors include Metal Supermarkets, Boeing, Pacific Power Batteries and Janicki Industries.

“Our biggest thanks go to Everett Community College and their AMTEC facility,” Elder said. AMTEC has provided a space for the students to work and Elder was hired as a volunteer employee, which provides him with access to machining equipment and the ability to supervise students.

Follow this link to contribute to the WSU Everett Engineering Club through the WSU Foundation that will help the team get to Hanksville for the competition.

Thanks to Jake Nicholls — Edward R. Murrow College of Communication Student for providing the information on this story to

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