Mission to Mars Work Experience - Software Cornwall

Award Winning Software Challenge

Mission to Mars at Heartlands in 2019

Software Cornwall, with the support of its members, runs two versions of the ‘Mission to Mars’, work experience activity. One is a week-long structured activity which is complemented by a two day accelerated version.  The programs invite budding software developers aged 14 to 24 to code Ada and Alan, our Mars rover robots, allowing them to traverse the tricky Martian terrain in search of extraterrestrial life.

The Mission to Mars work experience programme designed to provide a realistic experience of being a software developer. Working in teams, participants are supported in completing a set of incrementally difficult tasks, each built upon the abilities of the robots. Industry professionals join us throughout the week to coach participants, helping to develop problem-solving skills and writing quality software.

During the Mission applicants will:

  • Develop solutions using C++ and Raspberry PI for Arduino based hardware.
  • Work as part of a close-knit team.
  • Create software using an Agile development process.
  • Test solutions before deploying onto the rovers.
  • Present their product to potential ‘investors’ and VIPs.dd

A key objective of Software Cornwall is to support young people into careers in software engineering. Our members have been delighted, but overwhelmed, by requests for work experience. Due to the nature of the industry, it is difficult to provide an engaging and hands-on work experience for placement students meaning places are in short supply. To alleviate this problem, companies have decided to collaborate and volunteer their time and developers to help run a work experience week for budding developers.

2020 Update

The lockdown restrictions and cancellation of student visits out of school has necessitated a reboot of the Mission to Mars. We now offer a complete online at home (or from school) version. This not only enables students to do exactly the same tasks and experience as normal but also to emulate how software businesses really are developing code during the current situation. We have also added additional tasks and developed the Mission parameters further giving the students an even greater practical experience in software development, communication and team work.

Mission to Mars Objective

A key objective of Software Cornwall is to support young people into careers in software engineering. Our members have been delighted, but overwhelmed, by requests for work experience. Due to the nature of the industry, it is difficult to provide an engaging and hands-on work experience for placement students meaning places are in short supply. To alleviate this problem, companies have decided to collaborate and volunteer their time and developers to help run a work experience week for budding developers.

Mission to Mars is part of Software Cornwall’s education outreach program, designed to stimulate the computing industry from the ground up. In 2017, Cornwall was ranked in the top three tech clusters for growth, for the third year running but ranked poorly for computing subject uptake in further education. To support future growth, we are investing in learners from a young age, which is hoped to increase the pool of homegrown talent for the wider tech industry within the county in years to come.

Credly Digital Badges

As proof of learning and engaging with out industry Software Cornwall rewards participants of the work experiences with a digital badge. Millions of these badges have been awarded via the Credly system around the world as a way of demonstrating in job interviews and on a CV completion of a piece training. The Mission to Mars badge is awarded to those completing the Mission and participating in the team work necessary.

Missions Planned for 2021

Virtual Work Experience April 13th – 15th 2021

July 12th – 16th 2021 Mission to Mars Year 10 Work Experience at Heartlands, Cornwall. Real, virtual or hybrid. Applications closed.



Upcoming and Recent Missions



Easter Virtual Work Experience

Rover driving across monitor during a work experience

Easter 2021 Virtual Mission to Mars Work experiences this year are all in rather a muddle. Not all schools are participating and school time is also at a premium. But Software Cornwall are opening another Virtual Mission to Mars work experience. We ran three successful Missions last year. Over 50…

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Mission to Mars July 12th – 16th 2021

Mission to Mars July 12th 2021

Software Cornwall, with the help of their members, are hosting and supporting their annual work experience project week from 12th – 16th July 2021. This work experience week will see up to 30 students work for a week as a software engineering team on a development project alongside industry professionals….

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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…

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Work Experience – 30th March – 2nd April 2020

Software Cornwall, with the help of their members, is hosting their annual work experience project week from 30th March – 2nd April. This work experience week will see up to 30 students work for a week as a software engineering team on a software development project alongside industry professionals. The…

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Latest Mission to Mars News



Mars Rovers with Microbits or Arduino

New Mission to Mars rovers

First Outing for Mission to Mars Rovers Truro High School for Girls were the first students to utilise Software Cornwall’s new Martian Rovers. Having a purpose built circuit board to improve robustness and ease of construction these rovers have one significant upgrade over their predecessors. These can utilise either an…

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Mission to Mars VWEX

Line drawing of work experience rover

Virtual Work Experiences (VWEX) are being trialled in west Cornwall during December 2020 and March 2021. These are being organised through Speakers4Schools via the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership. The 2020 lockdown had all schools cancelling in situe work experience but Software Cornwall took the Mission to…

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Mission to Mars – Virtual Work Experience

Rover driving across monitor during a work experience

Mission to Mars at Home July 2020 The Mission to Mars Work Experience for students has been running since 2014. As an award winning education initiative there has already been recognition that Software Cornwall offers a valuable workplace encounter. At the beginning of 2020 schools were very quick to cancel…

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Mission to Mars reflections from Team E

This post was contributed by Team E, a startup team from the 2018 Mission to Mars Work Experience program. Hi! We’re Abby McAuliffe, Laurie Harbord, Cam Loughlin and Kyle Doody. We participated in the recent Mission To Mars Work Experience (9th – 13th July), hosted at Heartlands in Pool, and loved…

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Mission to Mars Code School : Tech Destination Cornwall #technation

Mission to Mars Code School Software Cornwall, with the support of its members, run unique ‘Mission to Mars’ week-long work experiences for budding software entrepreneurs.  The programme designed to provide a realistic experience of being a software developer in a tech start-up environment. Working in teams, participants are supported in…

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We’ll be live streaming at 1:30pm today. Join our #MissionToMars participants and special guests on Facebook

We’ll be live streaming at 1:30pm today. Join our #MissionToMars participants and special guests on Facebook to discover what we’ve been up to this week. Tune in on our Facebook page – Software cornwall 1.30pm today !!! https://www.facebook.com/softwarecornwall

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