Calvin students engineer new “Opportunity”

Photo+courtesy+of+Calvin+Mars+Rover+project+Facebook+page.
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Calvin students engineer new “Opportunity”

Photo courtesy of Calvin Mars Rover project Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Calvin Mars Rover project Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Calvin Mars Rover project Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Calvin Mars Rover project Facebook page.

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Although the beloved Mars rover Opportunity “passed away” in 2018, two Calvin students may be sending a new rover to the red planet through an intercollegiate competition. Sam Dare, along with Lawler, joined the Mars Rover project after deciding that they wanted hands-on experience while they studied engineering.

The Mars Rover project is a project which involves building a robot which would be sent to Mars to perform research, examine the terrain and perform certain human functions. According to Dare, they looked at a number of competitions, such as Baja, the intercollegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and then to the Rover. They then decided to take on the Mars Rover project because of its scale and difficulty.

“The challenge changes every year, so we will not be doing exactly the same thing every year,” said Dare.

Photo courtesy of Calvin Mars Rover project Facebook page.

In explaining the initial phases of the project, Dare says, “we started with nothing, so we had to raise our own funds. Then, we had to organize the group into sub-teams, research, teach each other and learn design.” Both Dare and Lawler also met with a few professors and eventually ended up being sponsored by professor Renard Tubergen in the engineering department.

According to Dare, this project is the joint effort of the engineering and computer science departments.

“The engineers do the design and construction work and the programmers program the rover,” said Dare. He mentions that this project also includes biology and chemistry majors who will build a Raman spectrometer,a device used to observe vibrational, rotational and other low-frequency modes in a given substance or device, for analyzing soil samples. “We do have a handful of business majors for photography, social media, website (www.calvinmars.com) and fundraising,” said Dare.

Photo courtesy of Calvin Mars Rover project Facebook page.

Overall, he asserts that about 20 people have had some say in the design of the rover. He mentions that their contributions range from the basic design of the electrical layout to the mechanical design and also to the science module design.

When asked about the timeline of the project, Dare responded, saying, “we will have the rover operational this Friday [March 1, 2019], and we will be testing it all through the month of May.” The team will compete at the beginning of June if they qualify at the Mars Research Station in Utah.

Dare asserts that once this project is completed, the team will engage in the same challenge iterating on their design and making it better.

“Just do it,” says Dare. “With hard work, dedication, and sacrifices, a lot can be achieved, and we are living proof that that is the case. I will not lie, this has been extremely challenging, but most things worth doing are.”