Nearly a dozen students spent part of their weekend at an underwater robotics workshop at Waltrip High School. Three teams of students from Waltrip, Washington, and the Energy Institute high schools built underwater robots essentially from scratch.
The students had to strip wire, solder, make electrical connections, read a mechanical schematic, measure and cut pipe, drill holes, make physical connections, while going from a drawing to a 3D structure, and create a variety of larger assemblies from individual parts.
“We just about had to run the kids out the door because they were reluctant to leave,” said Ike Coffman, Texas regional coordinator for the MATE Center.
The kits for the robot, valued at about $600, were provided by the MATE Center, an Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence that is funded by the National Science Foundation. The Center provides underwater robotic projects, project kits and marine technology curriculum, helps students develop mechanical aptitude, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and helps teachers build skills to manage a technical project at the high school level.
Four teachers also participated in the workshop. They learned about some of the technical details about underwater robotics, and how each of the subsystems work together to create something to perform tasks in an underwater environment.
The MATE Center hosts robotics tournaments throughout the U.S. Waltrip’s robotics team competed in the center’s international competition last summer and won the gROVER award for sportsmanship.
To learn more about the MATE Center and what it offers to students and teachers, visit its website.