HUTCHINSON — Amongst the Apollo 13 command module, space suits and other artifacts at the Cosmosphere International Science Education and Space Museum in Hutchinson, is Pittsburg State University’s own “Mars rover.”

The pedal-powered buggy has never actually made it to Mars, but many of the 110,000 visitors of the Cosmosphere can use their imagination.

The rover was created by students at Pittsburg State University for NASA as part of the national Human Exploration Rover Challenge.

PSU has entered the competition every year since it began 20 years ago and has brought home 13 awards, Greg Murray, Engineering Technology program at PSU said.

“Our students put together all the tools in their bag, along with what they are going to do in the industry and then show what they can do in the competition,” he said.

The rover “landed” at the Cosmosphere after College of Technology Dean Tim Dawsey took a tour of Hutchinson Community College and the Cosmosphere.

“While there, Tracey [Tomme] gave me a tour of the facility and it was absolutely amazing,” Dawsey said. “It’s amazing how many people in Kansas do not know about this place [Cosmosphere].

“It’s only second only to the Smithsonian, in details.”

Dawsey said it was “neat” to bring the the Kansas Center for Career and Technical Education and the Cosmosphere together with the “Mars Rover.”

Tomme, who is executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Cosmosphere said the rover fits in at many “levels.”
“We want to connect with students and teachers at all levels,” Tomme said in a release. “Why not showcase the work of university students here? To us it was a natural partnership.”
“It just fits,” she said. “It’s space. It’s applied learning. It’s of interest to the public. It’s the perfect addition for us and the perfect place for Pitt State to display it. And, it’s nice because it’s big enough to see and understand and touch.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.