MARS was founded in 2008 by five student members of a three- time state champion WV FLL® team. Building on the principle of creating a community-wide robotics program at the local, high school, and middle school levels, we have been able to bring together students from the two traditionally rival high schools. Our relationships with West Virginia University, our local Board of Education, NASA, and 4-H are crucial to our success. Their resources, such as financial assistance, facility access, shop equipment, and mentors, are invaluable to our progress.
In our first year of competition, the MARS team was awarded the Rookie All Star Award in Pittsburgh, in a field of eight teams. In addition, MARS competed in the quarter finals and the semi- finals as an alliance partner with FIRST team 337 and FIRST team 357 to win the Pittsburgh Regional. MARS then won a berth to Atlanta for the World Championship, where they enjoyed three days of intense competition with teams from around the world.
In our second season, MARS participated in many community outreach events, developed an inclusive marketing plan, started eight and sponsored ten FLL® teams, helped FRC® teams worldwide as a LabVIEW Beta test team, published our SERTI packet, and distributed Orbit Balls to teams in need. As a competitive team at both the Pittsburgh and Palmetto Regionals, we were semifinalists, and were awarded the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Controls Award, for our advanced control system. We also won the Industrial Safety Award at the Palmetto Regional.
In our third season, we created the curriculum for a variety of summer camps, sponsored eleven and mentored fourteen FLL® teams in three counties, and continued to grow the MARS team! MARS sponsored FLL® teams swept the WV FLL® state tournament, including first place overall, first in technical, and first on the field. The MARS FRC® team competed in the Pittsburgh and Raleigh Regionals where they were awarded the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Controls Award at both regionals, capping a string of four consecutive Rockwell Controls Awards. At Raleigh, FIRST Team 2614 also won the Engineering Inspiration Award for their extensive community outreach- sending team MARS to the World Championships in Atlanta, GA. At the World Championship, MARS team member Luke Scime was named one of the 10 Dean’s List Award winners, of 45,000 FRC students, for his efforts in expanding FIRST.
In our fourth season, our FLL® program expanded dramatically and now includes teams in more than 15 counties. We started our first rookie FRC® team at Winfield High School in Putnam County, WV, FIRST Team 3492, PARTS. MARS-sponsored FLL® teams swept the WV FLL® state tournament, including first and second place overall, first in research, and first on the field. The MARS FRC® team competed in the Pittsburgh and Palmetto Regionals, captaining the 4th seeded alliance in Pittsburgh and the 2nd seeded alliance in Palmetto, and reaching the semifinals in both events. In Pittsburgh, MARS won the Entrepreneurship Award and coach Dr.
Earl Scime was named the Regional Woodie Flowers Award winner. In Palmetto, we were awarded our second consecutive Engineering Inspiration Award, enabling the MARS team to attend the World Championships in St. Louis, MO. At the World Championship, MARS worked alongside their Rookie team, FIRST team 3492, who was on the winning alliance at the Pittsburgh Regional, and their FLL team, the MARS Rovers. After the completion of the
regular season, the MARS team sent two robots and drive teams to compete in an off-season event, CORI (Central Ohio Robotics Initiative) alongside their Rookie Team, FIRST team 3492.
In 2011-2012, MARS continued their outreach throughout the summer and fall, creating curriculum for many area youth summer camps, and expanding their FLL Program to
41 teams in 23 West Virginia Counties and one Southwestern Pennsylvania County, in addition to hosting a local scrimmage. MARS mentored FLL teams swept the WV State Tournament with first and second place overall, first, second, and third in robot design, first and second for the research project, and the core value awards for Teamwork, Gracious Professionalism, and Inspiration.
Our sixth season, 2012-2013, was a very successful season. At the Pittsburgh regional, we brought home the Entrepreneurship award and one of our members was a Dean’s List Finalist. At the Smoky Mountains Regional, we brought home another Entrepreneurship award and also the Engineering Inspiration award which gave us a ticket to the World Championships. At the World Championships, we won the Entrepreneurship award.
In our seventh season, 2013-2014, MARS performed better than ever before. At the Myrtle Beach regional, the team brought home a finalist on the field award, a gracious professionalism award, and the Xerox Quality Award. At the Smoky Mountains regional, MARS won both on the field and the prestigious FIRST Chairman's Award. (Both of which qualified us for the World Championships in St. Louis Missouri.) In addition, we also won the Entrepreneurship Award, another Gracious Professionalism Award, and student Emily Raque won a Dean's List award. At the World Championships, we competed better and were ranked higher than ever before, and came away with the Newton Divisional Innovation in Control Award. In our off-season, we participated in both CORi (Central Ohio Robotics Initiative) and IRI (Indiana Robotics Invitational). In addition, we also hosted our first off-season event, which has also become the first FRC event to take place in West Virginia, WVROX.
In its eighth season, (2014-2015) MARS competed at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional after a one year hiatus, the Smoky Mountains Regional, and the St. Louis World Championships. At Greater Pittsburgh, the new first-year drive team managed to achieve a 3rd seed ranking by the end of the competition. After playing in the eliminations, the team was knocked out in the quarter finals. MARS was awarded the Chairman's Award for the Third time, punching the ticket for team MARS' seventh trip to the world championships. After competing at Pittsburgh, MARS competed at the Smoky Mountains regional in Knoxville, Tennessee. MARS won the regional Gracious Professionalism award and won first place on the field, double qualifying the team for world competition. At World, MARS played in the Hopper Sub-Division Finals against the World Championship Finalists. Overall, this became one of MARS' best seasons. After the end of the season, MARS competed once again at CORi, and for the first time ever took home the victory. MARS also competed at IRI, but was not selected to play in eliminations.
In its ninth season, (2015-2016) MARS competed at the Palmetto Regional in the first ever "Week 0.5" event - taking place one week before the regular competition season. With a severely compressed schedule, MARS managed to put together MARVIN IX: Siege and compete. MARVIN IX: Siege fought all the way to the finals before finally being knocked out in a tie-breaker match. The team also won the Chairman's Award again, making this the third year win in a row (the team also received another Gracious Professionalism Award). At our second event, the Greater Pittsburgh Regional, the team once again received the Gracious Professionalism Award. At our third event, MARS performed at its highest level of competition - earning first rank/top alliance at the end of the qualification rounds. MARS went on to win the Finalists award and the Industrial Design award. MARS then proceeded to the World Championships, where the team won the Newton-Hopper Subdivision Gracious Professionalism Award and competed in the Newton Division Quarter-Finals. Soon after the World Competition, MARS competed at CORi again and became finalists at the off-season competition. MARS also competed at IRI for the fourth time , and was again not selected to compete in eliminations. Finally, MARS hosted the WVROX off-season competition event for the second time. After twenty-six hours and fourteen minutes, MARS finally won their first (and last) event of the season.
In its tenth season, (2016-2017) MARS competed at the Palmetto and Buckeye regionals with the machine MARVIN X. MARS competed in the elimination rounds at both events (as the third seeded alliance captain in the case of Palmetto). Both events ended at the semifinals for MARS with near defeats. At the Palmetto Regional, MARS received another Regional Chairman's award, qualifying the team for the World Championships in St. Louis. Trish Vos, an Outreach and Public Relations mentor on the team, also won the Woodie Flowers award at the Palmetto Regional making her the third mentor to receive this award in the team's history. At the St. Louis World Championships, MARS competed in the inaugural Daly Subdivision and was selected to play in the elimination round with the third-seeded alliance. MARS was knocked out in the final rounds by what would eventually become the World Champion alliance. Earlier in the competition, MARS received the Chairman's Finalist award - becoming one of three finalists with a chance to win the 2017 World Chairman's award. At the conclusion of the 2017 Championships, it was announced the MARS had won the 2017 World Chairman's award and was to be inducted into the FIRST Hall of Fame, joining an elite group of FRC teams recognized for their incredible outreach efforts.