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MISSION VIEJO, CA — The Saddleback College Rover Team (SC Robotics) competed on May 31 through June 3 at the University Rover Challenge (URC) — the world's premier robotics competition for college students. URC challenges teams to design and build a rover for simulated extraterrestrial terrain while completing tasks in a variety of categories to help develop the next generation of Mars exploration vehicles.

Dr. Elliot Stern, President of Saddleback College said, “We are very proud of our students and grateful to their coaches for being the only community college invited to compete t the University Rover Challenge and for ranking above globally recognized polytechnics and other prestigious universities in the finals. Saddleback has world class faculty and brilliant students who prove, every day, that this is not your father’s community college.

There were 104 universities in the competition. Of all the teams, Saddleback College was the only two-year college to secure top rankings and placed 20/104, a ranking higher than notable universities from around the world. More impressively, the team placed 13/104 in the technically demanding Science Mission trials fielding two automated science experiments designed to identify geologic specimens and detect a chemical compound in soil samples indicative of possible life.

Trustee Marcia Milchiker attended the special event and said, "The students worked incredibly hard to earn the ranking and recognition at this year's University Rover Challenge, it was truly a collaborative effort. I was proud to join them on this very unique trip and rigorous academic journey.  The rankings reaffirm what the Board of Trustees already knows...our students are among the best in the world."

Members of the team included volunteer advisors Professor Mitchel (Mitch) Haeri who advised in astronomy and physics, Professor James (Jim) Repka who advised in geology, and Trustee Marcia Milchiker who advised in science and biology.

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About the South Orange County Community College District: SOCCCD serves nearly 50,000 students per year through our two colleges, Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College. The district serves nearly one million residents and employs more than 3,000 faculty and staff.