Mission to Mars Code School : Tech Destination Cornwall #technation - Software Cornwall

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 completing a set of incrementally difficult challenges, programming our Mars Rover Robots to operate autonomously.  Local industry professionals join students throughout the week to coach them technically and on potential career pathways, helping them to write quality software and explore their future career options.

During the mission, students:

  • 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 local industry guests.

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 Game Changer, and Education Outreach programmes, designed to stimulate the computing industry from the ground up. In 2017, Cornwall was ranked in the top three tech clusters for growth in the Tech Nation UK, for the third year running but computing subject uptake in education is poor. To support future growth, we are investing in learners from a young age to increase the pool of homegrown talent for the wider tech industry within the county.


General info and more details of missions


Details of funding that is helping us to scale our missions this year


Career Launch Success – From Mission to Mars experience to Bluefruit Apprentice

Bluefruit apprentice Jordan’s inspiring journey from a Mission to Mars attendee to becoming a Software Developer.

“Hi! I’m Jordan, a software developer apprentice, and this is my story of how I became interested in the tech world!

In October 2015, I saw a Facebook advert for a 4-day embedded software course. I applied to attend in order to boost my knowledge of coding and learn more about techniques like TDD (test driven development) and Agile.

We were coding Arduinos to make the robots, Bert and Ernie, move. The robots were being portrayed as Mars rovers and mimicked the way that robots on Mars moved and behaved. At the time I was very nervous because I had never touched an Arduino C in my life and I felt like I should have had more prior knowledge. However, the people there were so helpful and made it a fun and enjoyable learning experience through the 7 tasks we completed.

I attended a second Mission to Mars course as a student to refresh my coding abilities on the robots so that I could feel more confident if I were to volunteer to help at the next mission! I went into it feeling more confident as I knew the format of how it was going to be run and I enjoyed it just as much! My team managed to achieve task 8 and we were attempting task 9!

I decided to become an apprentice because I felt I would learn best within an established company, and I was correct! We were coding using Cyber-Dojo, a learning tool to teach ourselves how to use TDD, and it was our way of showing our entire capabilities and technical aptitude to Bluefruit.

When I received a phone call saying that I had achieved my ambition, it meant a lot and I still thank Bluefruit for the opportunity to learn alongside some of my role models.”

natural talent emerge during the mission.  Her determination was clear from the start and it quickly caught the attention of Paul Massey, founder of Bluefruit, at our Eden event where Jordan impressed him with her home robotics project!”

“Jordan’s experience and journey into a career pathway in the sector is a great success story for us.  As a community we aim to find, inpire and support our young talent here in Cornwall into careers in our tech sector.  We are confident she will be the first of hundreds of young people to join our community in the next few years.”