High School Students’ Underwater Robots Compete during STEM Camp

Published: June 30, 2015

High School Students’ Underwater Robots Compete during STEM Camp

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Teams of high school students from around Texas and as far away as Georgia participated in a series of ROV (remotely operated vehicle) underwater manipulation and navigation contests held Friday, June 26, at the University pool at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

The competition was part of the College of Science and Engineering’s fifth “STEM Summer Institute: Underwater Robotics” educational program held June 20-26 on campus.

During the team-based ROV Pool Contest, which focuses on the innovation of technology to improve ROV’s navigation and grasping capabilities, students designed and manufactured components to add to the robot to make it more efficient in picking up materials that will be transported from one side of the pool to the other.

On the day of competition, student teams competed to see which team could complete the task of moving the materials the fastest. 

“There has been a lot of excitement going on during the competition and it’s been amazing to see and it’s been a lot of fun for them and for me,” said Dr. Dugan Um, Associate Professor of Science and Engineering. “We made sure that the component of learning excitement for engineering was included in the camp.”

Awards were presented Friday afternoon. High school student winners were:

  • AutoCAD Design Contest Winner: Sullivan Curry, Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas in Farmers Branch, Texas
  • Best “My Dream” presentation: Hannah Brady from Katherine Anne Porter Charter High School in Wimberley, Texas; and Greggory Hartsfield, Moody High School in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • 2nd place ROV competition: Team Sonar: Jared Saklad, Clark High School in San Antonio, Texas; Michael Rock, Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi, Texas; Mirari Williams, Arabia Mountain High School in Decatur, Ga.; and Renn Leber from Banquete High School in Banquete, Texas
  • 1st place ROV competition: Team Golden Karats: Greggory Hartsfield, Moody High School in Corpus Christi, Texas; Victoria Montoya, King High School in Corpus Christi, Texas; and Preston Koenig, Canyon High School in Garden Ridge, Texas. 

First place winners received iPads. First and second place winners received trophies. All student participants received a certificate of achievement.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to build our own ROV projects because I really think it will help me get an edge on my college applications,” said Michael Roc, from Corpus Christi, Texas. “Now that I have the experience with AutoCAD and the 3-D printing, I can build upon it and I think it is going to really help me in the future.”

A total of 16 students enrolled in the STEM Summer Institute came from the San Antonio area, Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Decatur, Ga.

The STEM Summer Institute prepares the next generation of scientists and engineers for future careers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, often referred to as STEM, fields. The camp introduces teens to exciting oceanography research and engineering opportunities, with an emphasis in ROV operation. Earlier in the week, student teams designed several attachments for the ROV that were used to fetch items underwater during the competition.

Students stayed on the Island University campus and experienced a week-long series of lectures, exercises, hands-on activities, design and prototyping, field trips, and project competitions with prizes and incentive. They were also able to build more knowledge in underwater robotics, related to other students with similar interests, and learn from experienced University professors in the engineering laboratories.

“It’s been really fun being here with a lot of people who are interested in the same thing you are,” said Sullivan Curry from Dallas, Texas.