By Jade Kim, Operations Administrator at Base 11
The day we finally send people to Mars is quickly approaching, and when we do, those future Martian explorers will need to be equipped with the latest in rover technology to work alongside. Our very own Victory Circle student Juan Villalobos got to work on just that.
Working alongside his fellow California State University, Fullerton teammates in Titan Rover, Juan competed in the University Rover Challenge, a worldwide robotics competition that challenges students to produce the next generation of Martian rovers. This year, ten countries and over 500 students participated, producing 35 rovers that were demonstrated at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah.
We asked Juan a few questions about his epic hands-on experience working on his team’s submission, the Calypso:
1. Why did you decide to get involved with the University Rover Challenge?
I decided to get involved with University Rover Challenge by getting involved with Titan Rover. Titan Rover works on building a rover to compete at the University Rover Challenge.
2. What was your role on the team?
My role on the team was as an underclassmen who helped out any lead. I helped machine some parts, set up drawings, redo parts on SolidWorks, and anything else they needed.
3. What was your favorite part of the experience?
My favorite part about the experience was being able to see our rover and other teams’ rovers in action. Being able to just bond with my team during those four days made the experience worth it.
4. What lessons or skills gained from your experiences in the Base 11 programs helped you
succeed with the University Rover Challenge? (Or, more generally, are helping you to succeed at
a four-year university?)
Being able to learn how to use a Raspberry Pi in the [Base 11] Academic-Year Round Program helped me have a better understanding of how the Raspberry Pi is used on Calypso, our rover. The 3D-modeling I did during the STEM Entrepreneur Program for additive manufacturing class helped me to be able to help the leads out in redoing parts and doing drawings.
5. What are your long-term goals in STEM?
My long-term STEM goals are to become a STEM entrepreneur and have my own company built with my own personal investments with my own inventions and other people’s ideas.
6. What is your advice to other community college students who would like to transfer to a 4-
year school in a STEM degree or even get involved in team engineering competitions like the
one you did?
My advice to any community college student is that when you transfer, do not try to rush towards graduation. It’s better to take your time and learn from others and make connections. When getting involved, join any project that interests you but try stick to one. Also always try your best and help out in an any way, even if it’s a task like sanding. You will make better connections and learn more about the project your working with.
For more information the Base 11 programs that helped prepare Juan, click here.