Mission to Mars at Home

The award winning work experience from Software Cornwall is the Mission to Mars. Running since 2014 it provides an opportunity for students in Cornwall (and Aberdeen) to try their hand at being a Software Developer for a week.

It was never envisaged that it would be run remotely. One of the main aims was to replicate a team coding experience. Problem solving with others and developing solutions to tasks set by a client. But these times of isolation has meant that the tasks and the hardware have had to move online. For a while at least.

Mission to Mars Rover coding in the kitchen

March 30th was to be the start of a four day session of Mission to Mars in St Austell for students from around Cornwall. Instead of running in St Austell it has been running from front rooms and bedrooms around the county. Physical resources have been replicated online to still give a feel of handling the hardware. And the software development to solve the tasks to get the Martian Rovers to operate has also moved online. Some tasks can still be tested without the physical hardware, others require a little more assistance than is usual.

What still remains is the rovers. Usually the teams of students are able to upload their code directly onto a rover and witness the triumphs and failures for themselves. For this Mission to Mars at Home the rovers were based elsewhere and the code sent over by email. Videos of the resulting drives were placed on the Software Cornwall Facebook page for viewing. With all their errors or winning results.

This Mission to Mars, though put together at very short notice, has shown that it is possible to provide an idea of what it is like to participate in the real work experience week. We’d like to thank those who participated and helped us to develop the idea. But let’s hope that maybe this is the first and only time it is necessary to have a Mission to Mars at Home because there wasn’t any other way to do so.

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