Colorado School of Mines students are proving they have some of the best mechanical engineering skills in the nation.

A team of students just took second place in a national NASA competition to design and build a system for extracting water from Mars' subsurface.

The Mars Ice Challenge is a special edition of NASA's Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) brand competitions.

Out of the eight teams from across the U.S., the Colorado School of Mines team had the lightest system and was one of only two that could actually collect water.

Caroline Ellis, the team's electronics and programming subsystem lead, says making it to the final eight was a great accomplishment, but placing second made their hard work even more worth it.

"When you're working really long hours outside of school, outside of homework, outside of jobs in the summer time it takes a toll on you and it was really rewarding to see that what we did paid off and people took notice of it," Ellis said.

She added NASA hosts these student competitions to get fresh ideas to help with minor problems it may face.

"One of our big goals was to give them something - maybe a tiny change in dimension or a certain like material that they hadn't thought of. Just something they could take and say 'hey, maybe we can run some test on this,'" she said.

The team also included freshman Giorgia Cassata; Kenneth Li, geophysical engineering; Taewoo Kim, Tyler Perko, Tatjana Tschirpke and James Wood, mechanical engineering; and Steve Benfield, petroleum engineering.

NASA's Mars Ice challenge was a special competition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Langley Research Center, where the contest was held.