One of our primary goals on the NIU Mars Rover Team is competing in the University Rover Challenge. The University Rover Challenge (URC) is a yearly competition that features a wide variety of challenges for the competing teams and their rovers. The URC challenges us to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers, with competition tasks ranging from autonomous, long distance navigation, to sample collection and testing, and more. There are four major tasks to the URC: the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, the Equipment Servicing Task, the Science Task, and the Autonomous Traversal Task. In addition to being able to carry out these tasks, our rover must also fit within certain cost, size, and weight constraints provided by the competition rules. To tackle these challenges, we split into specialized subgroups, which you can read more on in their “About” pages.

Perhaps the most important goal of our team, however, is to provide a unique environment to learn new things and build new skills. We offer education and hands-on experience relating to the design, fabrication, and integration of mechanical, electrical, and computer systems. Outside of engineering, the team aims to offer experiences and education relevant to implementation, management, and improvement of industrial systems, as well as the opportunity to practice and learn crucial soft skills such as organization, time management, communication, people skills, problem-solving, self-confidence, and more.

We hope to offer opportunities not just to engineering students, but to any interested, motivated, passionate, and curious students willing to engage with our team. Past and current members come from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, including the Colleges of Visual and Performing Arts, Business, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Engineering and Engineering Technology.