Marvin's Journal

2008 -

January 7, 2016

Proudly presented by the MARS alumni, so that we will never forget where we came from or where we’re going...


Jeffery Atkinson


Scott Hamrick


Everett Bowen
Jared Leggett
Lisa Liang
Greg Lusk
Paula Pacurari
Luke Scime


Shannon Ballard
Rachel Montgomery
Nick Ohi
Steven Michael Patrick
Karen Perez
Alex Stout
Haley Tucker
Ryan Utzman
Tessa Wiegand


Amber Belknap
Caroline Hamrick
Ben Semmens
Christian Haining


Tim Balvers
Elliot Guerra-Blackmer
Alex Bonnstetter
Kari DeMicco
Shiv Sunil
Nathan Utzman


Akshay Chandran
Everett Daly
Matthew Gramlich
Jonathan Lister
Evan Lynn
Cortney Mercer
Emily Raque
Ben Taylor
Eric Tennant
Kasey Turner
Oliver Wiegand


Sierra Baker
Jarrod Barfield
Bertalan Czinege
Rachel DeHann
Zach Dennis
Lee Floyd
Wyatt Kitzmiller
Annnie Levansky
Adam Roh
Cyrus Shahnam
Pragya Shekhawat
Phillip Tucker (1962 - 2015)


Cameron Baldwin
Rohan Chandran
Izzy Harris
Abraham Joshua
Emily Lederman
Alexandru Stanescu
Sidd Subramanyam
Kevin Tennant
Jack Tompson
Greg Treathaway


Autumn Baker
Abi Cain
Nysha Hongpaisan
Elizabeth Lister
Andy Moorehead
Gwen Nurkiewicz
Maggie Raque
Caleb Sorensen
Caroline Thompson
Swatara Tucker
Henry Vos
Dylan Wiley
Nathan Zucker


Vijay Bharti
Joren Cloutier
Samuel Cyphert
Alan Daly
Ethan Fuller
Ethan Scime
Shannon Werntz


Christopher Ballard
Daphne Barretto
Henry Cerbone
Lian Dunlevy
Caomi Fitz
Madison Hyre
William Jones
William Muhly
Lillian Rieke

I Remember When...

What is greatness? In a business it is Success. In a family it is Love. In a man it is Inspiration. However, the greatest of men have all three. This man inspired greatness, built success, and has earned the love of thousands. He is our Hero and for that we can never thank him enough. ‘The goal is not to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.’
— Excerpt from the 2015 Woodie Flower's Award Essay, written by the students, for Phillip Tucker

2008 - Overdrive

2009 - Lunacy

2010 - Breakaway

2011 - Logomotion

2012 - Rebound Rumble

2013 - Ultimate Ascent

2014 - Aerial Assist

2015 - Recycle Rush

2016 - FIRst Stronghold

It is a wise man who plants shade trees under which he will never sit. – Todd Hamrick

This past year has been bittersweet for MARS, our most successful season to date sadly came to a close with the immense loss of our co-founder, mentor, and dear friend, Phillip Tucker. Throughout this year's Journal we have included additional Phil stories and remembrances; so that he may always be with us, because he truly is everything we are. Just as Phil appears in the most unexpected of places in this Journal, I expect that we will continue to see him in life at the most unexpected of times. Thank you to all of the incredible students, mentors, parents, fans, sponsors and believers who have made MARS what it is today. Know that your contribution, no matter how large or small, has impacted the lives thousands across West Virginia and beyond. These eight years have been amazing, let’s get ready to add an ninth! 

I remember once, I stood with my arms crossed, and Phil uncrossed my arms and said, ‘now you are open for opportunities.’
— Lisa Liang (MARS '10)
I owe Phil Tucker more than I owe just about anybody else in this world. For 13 years he has been the steadiest of friends, a constant in my life that I could always count on. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t met him all those years ago but I know that I wouldn’t be here. His kindness and patience were infectious. He reminded me to not study so much. He made sure that I tackled the problems I thought were impossible. He might have talked a lot, but what he said was usually right and well worth listening to. He reminded me to have a bit fun, to put on that wig, to get up and dance to that song.
— Luke Scime (MARS '10)
Were it not for Phil, I would not be here today, working on cutting edge autonomy and intelligence for robots and helping to make a part of West Virginia history, the state’s first spacecraft. I owe Phil more than I could ever repay for helping start me onto the path of becoming a capable engineer and he did so many great things to help advance science and engineering education in West Virginia and to inspire others. For all of these things, I wanted to do something truly unique to honor his memory... The NovAtel GPS receiver that will fly onboard the CubeSat STF-1 will now carry Phil Tucker’s initials into space.
— Nick Ohi (MARS '11)
No one else ever pushed me as hard in life with such a positive urgency. While life seemed to live on Phil time it was the only possible way to accomplish so many things and speak with so many yet still be able to have puppy time, give me everything I ever asked for and to watch cartoons & Big Bang before going to bed. The two of us were a team unstoppable. The best lesson you gave me emphasized the impact and day-changing mentality you can have on a person by giving them a few minutes of your day. You were able to see something in every individual you met, encouraging them in person, phone calls, and silly texts which allowed them to fulfill their dreams and lead the best version of their lives. While you were never able to say words against another person you truly surrounded yourself by the best people in every community you touched. The hardest thing I’ll do is learn to live without you. However I know that everyone you’ve touched will be here for me, showing me your impact for the rest of my life.
Your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever. “Never give up, never surrender”
as he always said. Phil Tucker has left the building.
— Haley Tucker (MARS '11)
I don’t know what exactly made that group of 12 students and a couple of mentors go from a team to a family, but I do know without a doubt that Phil Tucker was a crucial part it... Thank you Phil for looking out for us when we didn’t even know we needed looking out for, for reminding us what was important in life at times when it was easy to forget, always taking the time to teach us even when we struggled to learn, and loving us when weren’t that easy to love... I’ll miss you.
— Tessa Wiegand (MARS '11)
I will dearly miss all of the phone calls with Phil, where he was trying to gather information related to MARS, shooting sports, potential jobs and internships, etc. I will miss all the times Phil gave the most goofy expressions for a snapshot with a team member, and I got to capture it. I will miss all the times that Phil was initially missing for the team pictures, and we had to scream ‘PHILLLLLLLL,’ hoping he was near enough to hear us.
— Kari DeMicco (MARS '13)
I’m still waiting on his ‘static calls’ and phone calls in the most inconvenient times. I didn’t get to tell you enough the impact you had on me through my years of MARS and beyond, but Phil I want you to know that you mean the world to me.
— Cortney Mercer (MARS '14)
Thank you Phil. Thank you for changing my life, for helping me grow into the confident young woman I am, thank you for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself, thank you for being the ‘cool’ mentor who jumped in the pool with us at Knoxville, who stayed up till midnight playing UNO with us, who ran out to the ocean at 11:00 at night after palmetto, thank you for the nights during build season where you stayed at White Hall until one, two, three, or even four the next morning, because if the students were excited to be there and working, so were you, thank you for the midnight donuts, and chili dogs and other miscellaneous late night snacks, thank you for teaching me that the most important part of a regional isn’t winning, it’s making sure everyone is on the field and playing, thank you for everything you have done and taught me.
— Maggie Raque (MARS '17)
Phil was an inspiration to me and to our team (3824). A couple of years ago at the Smoky Mountains Regional, I asked Phil what his favorite moment of the season was so far. Without hesitation, he began to tell me about a hush puppy tossing/catching/eating contest that had developed rather spontaneously the night before at a local barbecue place during a team meal. Eventually the cooks brought out fresh game pieces so the contest could continue. He said that while MARS has banners, ribbons and trophies, and works hard to earn more, they also have fun. And he wouldn’t trade a hush puppy contest for any number of banners.
— John Tilson (RoHAWKtics Mentor)