Award Winning Software Challenge
Software Cornwall, with the support of its members, run various 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. In development there is also the Mission to Mars for Adults. All are designed to engage the participants in coding, teamwork and gaining an understanding of what it is like working as a software engineer.
The programs invite budding software developers aged 14 to 24 to code the Mars rover robots. The rovers only operate using the code uploaded to them. It is this code that the week revolves around. It is up to the software developers to create this code so that the rovers operate to the specifications supplied to them.
The Mission to Mars work experience programme is 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 write quality software and to share their work experiences and careers.
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.
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.
From the experience of working during the lockdowns 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 do develop code remotely but still within a team. 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. The only prerequisite is that enough students apply to create a remote team.
It will now be possible for remote students to participate within the live experience. It will require teams of remote developers working together but with the added experience of seeing and hearing what is happening live. All the successes and failures of those teams and of course them observing yours!
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 2022/2023
October 24th – 28th 2022 Half Term Mission to Mars. Applications Closed.
Easter Holidays 3rd – 5th April 2023 Mission to Mars. Applications Closed.