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System Acceptance Review

System Acceptance Review

System Acceptance Review (SAR) packages must be submitted no later than March 2, 2018 at 11:59pm Mountain Standard Time (MST; UTC-7).

The SAR is a competitive milestone, meaning that teams will be judged against each other.  Only the top 30 teams will be accepted to compete in the URC2018 field competition.*

Format and Submission Details

SAR packages shall consist of two components: a SAR Report and SAR Video.  They must be submitted no later than March 2, 2018 at 11:59pm Mountain Standard Time (MST; UTC-7) via an online form. (Link will be provided directly to Student Team Leads; submissions may be made by any student team member with a Google account.)

All content (including, but not limited to, text, images, video, and audio) not created by the submitting team must be credited or cited appropriately. Plagiarism concerns are taken very seriously, and are grounds for disqualification.

SAR Report
SAR Reports are limited to 6 pages of text and graphics (images, figures, etc.).  A cover page is optional, and is not included in the 6 page limit, but may only include the report title, team name, contact information (student team lead and an optional point of contact), etc. (if not included on a cover page, this information should appear in a header at the top of the first page).  Pages should be in letterpaper size (8.5 in. x 11 in.), with margins no smaller than 1 in. (2.5 cm), text in Calibri 11 point font (or similarly sized font), and single spaced.  Electronic submissions are required in *.doc, *.docx or *.pdf (preferred) file formats.  Google Drive files (*.gdoc) are not allowed for submissions.

Page 5 of the SAR Report is required to provide an up-to-date Gantt chart and team budget.  The Gantt chart and team budget may only be provided on Page 5; and Page 5 may contain no other information.

Page 6 of the SAR Report is required to be the SAR Science Plan.  The SAR Science Plan may only be discussed on Page 6; and Page 6 may contain no other information.

Judges will not consider any content after the end of the sixth page (not including cover page), regardless of the situation or content remaining on additional pages.

SAR Video
SAR Videos are limited to a single video that is no longer than 5 minutes (5:00).  Teams may use any combination of video techniques - to include individuals talking, rover demonstrations, voiced-over-slides, etc.  However, audio quality of any voice used is absolutely imperative, even at the expense of video quality.  Do not include background music that makes voices hard to hear and understand.  Videos may be submitted via a link to YouTube.  Videos must be publicly accessible and searchable.  By submitting the SAR Video, teams acknowledge that some or all of their video may be utilized by URC for promotion purposes.

Judges will not consider any content after 5:00 in the video, regardless of the situation or content remaining.

SAR Content

Pages 1-4 of the SAR Report should address (at a minimum) the required elements of information below.  Teams are reminded that this is a competitive milestone; simply stating that the elements below have been addressed is insufficient.  Teams are expected to demonstrate why their system is unique and exceptional.

The judges do not require a detailed discussion on the merits of 6061 series Aluminum or a description of why rovers are important on Mars.  Teams are expected to use the space provided to make a compelling case to judges while still addressing the following points.

Core Rover Systems: Address the core systems of your rover, communication systems, and command and control systems, with an emphasis on the subsystems that are either high-risk or unique.  Teams should provide a system-level context that describes the overall design, and thoughtful systems engineering approach.

Approach to Competition Tasks: Teams should describe their systematic approach and subsystems developed to complete the individual competition tasks (with the exception of the Sample Cache Task, which will be addressed in the SAR Science Plan).

Testing and Operations: Describe the testing that your team has completed to date, and your plan for testing prior to the competition.  Teams should address how they will conduct testing at the component/subsystem level, system level, and operational testing/training.

Page 5 of the SAR should provide an up-to-date Gantt chart and team budget.  The Gantt chart should reflect the accurate status of each identified work element, identify all work remaining (to include integration and testing), and accurately depict the critical path for project completion (the sequence of interdependent work elements which determine the shortest schedule to completion).  The team budget should reflect funding raised and expenses to date, as well as anticipated funding yet to be raised and planned expenses through project completion.  Teams are also required to clearly state whether or not they have, or will have, the funding required to travel to URC if selected.  Page 5 may contain no other information; however, schedule and budget may also be discussed on Pages 1-4.

Page 6 of the SAR Report should consist exclusively of the SAR Science Plan, which is expected to discuss the team's planned instruments and methods for both the rover and lab testing.  Teams should clearly identify any assays that are planned.  Teams are also expected to explain why those instruments/methods/assays** are being chosen as they relate to Mars science.

The intent of the video is to expand upon and complement the report, and demonstrate rover capabilities.  While teams are not explicitly required to demonstrate any working systems/subsystems as part of the SAR package, such evidence will be considered by judges in the competitive down-selection process.  Further, historical data has shown that teams who cannot demonstrate rover functionality by this deadline are unlikely to be judged favorably.

Teams are reminded that the judges are professionals with technical backgrounds, and decades of combined experience in evaluating student rover projects.  Videos that focus on an overly embellished marketing format (e.g. a “Kickstarter style” video) while failing to provide meaningful content will not be judged favorably.  Teams are encouraged to demonstrate their rover in a variety of situations that demonstrate readiness.


*It is anticipated that only 30 teams will pass the SAR milestone and be invited to compete in the URC2018 field competition, although the judges may elect to change this number due to a variety of factors.  This limit is due to logistical, timing, environmental and staffing constraints, and is required to maintain the quality of the competition for competing teams.  There will not be a stand-by list in the event of teams withdrawing prior to the competition.

**In the SAR Science Plan teams are required to identify any hazardous materials planned for use.  Teams who are accepted to compete in the URC2018 finals will subsequently be required to explain how the hazardous materials will be used, as well as the safety measures being implemented (to include transportation to, and storage at, URC, as well as disposal).  Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) systems with integrated safety measures from the original manufacturer will be looked upon more favorably by the judges and staff.