York University Rover Team touches down

A future York student (and space scientist) tries out the rover

Members of the York University Rover Team (YURT) landed at the Mars Curiosity Party TO this past Sunday to cheer on NASA’s Curiosity Rover and let partygoers test drive York’s award-winning prototype.

Students from York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering entertained the group of more than two dozen children and 200 adults, giving them a chance to learn more about space robotics and exploration, along with science and engineering York University Rover Team representatives with their Mars Roverprograms at York University.

York University Rover Team representatives with their Mars Rover

Curiosity touched down on the Red Planet at 1:32am EST on Monday, Aug. 6. The Toronto event, held at the Hotel Ocho, was one of many worldwide, featuring a live feed of NASA’s control room, and a virtual visit from Bill Nye the Science Guy, along with 1500 attendees of PlanetFest 2012 in Pasadena, California.

“It was amazing to see all the kids and see how interested they are in science. We told them that everything you do at York can lead you somewhere – it doesn’t matter which field you’re in, you can develop your skills and learn more,” said Carla Mejia, one of the YURT team members.

Event coordinator Jonathan Moneta credited York’s rover team for making the events unfolding on Mars relatable to attendees – especially kids.

“It was really good to have an actual rover that kids could play with – it helped them broaden their understanding a bit,” Moneta said.

Several media outlets were on-site at the event. Rover team members were interviewed live on CP24 and also received mentions on CTV Toronto and in the Torontoist.

A future York student (and space scientist) tries out the roverA future York student (and space scientist) tries out the rover

The members of YURT who attended were: Carla Mejia, fourth-year biomedical science; Carina Hoang, second-year master of science in biology; Manjeet Kaur, fourth-year computer engineering; Oyinda Daramola, third-year computer engineering; Pablo Saldarriaga, fourth-year computer science; and Vaibhav Kapoor, fourth-year computer engineering.

Earlier this year, York’s rover team took first place in the 2012 University Rover Challenge at the Mars Desert Research Station, outperforming major American universities, including Brigham Young University in Utah, which placed second, and Cornell University in New York, which took third. The team also placed first at the university level of the Canadian Innovation Nation (CSii) Robotics Competition in Muskoka, Ontario.

For more photos of YURT in action at Mars Party TO, click here.