Island University Offers Exciting Opportunities at Sixth Annual STEM Summer Institute – Underwater Robotics

Published: June 29, 2016

Island University Offers Exciting Opportunities at Sixth Annual STEM Summer Institute – Underwater Robotics

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Hands-on activities, field trips and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operations are just some of the exciting things that high school students were exposed to at the sixth annual Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi STEM Summer Institute (SI) Underwater Robotics. The Summer Institute, sponsored by the College of Science and Engineering, held its week-long program June 19-25 at the Island University.

“The goal of STEM SI Underwater Robotics is to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers for future careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Dr. Dugan Um, Associate Professor of Engineering. “During the camp, high school students lived in the dorms at the Island University and built their knowledge in underwater robotics, related to other students with similar interests and learned from experienced University professors in TAMU-CC engineering laboratories.”

Fifteen high school students from all over Texas, and even as far away as Mexico, signed up for STEM SI.

“I really have enjoyed my experience here,” said Vedant Chopra, a high school student from Houston. “I want to be an engineer when I grow up, and high school simply can’t provide what I am learning here – everything from computer-aided design and general robotics to underwater robotics. All these things together make this camp awesome, and I would recommend it to any high school student who thinks he or she may want to be an engineer.”

During the week, students designed and manufactured components through computer-aided design (CAD) software in an effort to improve the underwater navigation and grasping capabilities of the VideoRay ROV. Students also designed and built ROVs made out of PVC pipe.  They tested their robots daily in the campus pool, and held a competition to see whose robot was best able to perform the fastest and most efficient underwater manipulation.

New for STEM SI this year was a field trip out to the Laguna Madre Field Station, a research location for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi students studying marine biology. At the field station, the young students were able to try their hand at kayaking while using the VideoRay ROV to navigate and survey coastal shores.

“Our goal is to make sure these students are doing hands-on activities,” said Mayra Alvarado, Program Coordinator for Engineering Recruitment and STEM Outreach at A&M-Corpus Christi. “In fact, there are very few lectures during the week. We want them to walk away from here knowing more about engineering and feeling confident in picking engineering as a future career, if they so choose.”

Awards were handed out on the final day of STEM SI. Winners included:

  • AutoCAD Design Contest Winner: Lucas Dolezal from Port Isabel, Texas
  • Best “My Dream” presentation: Rafael Flores from Reynosa, Mexico
  • 2nd place ROV competition: Team RaKaSo: Rafael Flores, Kara Rodriguez from Three Rivers, Texas, and Sophie Salazar from Kingwood, Texas
  • 1st place ROV competition: Team Whovians: Brian Colburn from Calallen High School, Kevin Howard from Austin, Texas, and Alan Colón from Houston, Texas