Proud advisors

The faculty advisors for the Mars Rover Design Team (MRDT) have seen the team grow from a small but enthusiastic group of students to world champions.

Melanie Mormile, associate provost for faculty affairs and a professor of biological sciences and geological sciences and engineering, has been the team’s advisor since it was founded in 2012. She has traveled with the team to Hanksville, Utah, for the University Rover Challenge the last four years.

She says she and Garry “Smitty” Grubbs II, associate advisor of the team, have seen the MRDT improve every year, culminating in this year’s challenge victory.

“We are truly fortunate to work with such amazing students,” Mormile says.

“They look to Dr. Mormile and me for guidance, but are extremely autonomous,” Grubbs says. “They have a plan, business model and deadlines, and they execute each one almost flawlessly. This year, in particular, they had an incredibly ambitious schedule and kept it, which was amazing.”

Grubbs, an assistant professor of chemistry, joined the team as associate advisor in 2013. He traveled with the MRDT to Poland in September 2015 for the European Rover Challenge.

“They are thoughtful, kind and ambitious students,” Grubbs says. “There is nothing more exciting as an educator than getting to work with students like that.”

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