Parker’s Upper School underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) team has been meeting regularly since the beginning of second semester. The team meets three to four times a week during a Monday morning break, after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and occasionally on Saturday mornings. At the beginning of the season, we developed prototype robots out of PVC pipes and worked on building and fine-tuning different skills to aid in the creation of our underwater robot. There are currently eight members in the club, six of whom are young women, and every member learned how to solder and use a computer-aided design software called VCarve, in addition to learning how to print designs out of plastic.
Currently, we are building and programming the robot we will use to compete on Saturday April 28. The competition is run by the Shedd Aquarium and is hosted at Northeastern Illinois University. Essentially, the robot must complete a series of tasks in the pool that vary in difficulty and in skill set. Thus, the robot must be built with the appropriate pieces, as well as properly programmed, to accomplish these varied tasks efficiently. One of the biggest challenges we have to tackle as a team is waterproofing the electronics of the robot. When interviewing the team members, many of them expressed that they had a different perspective of robotics when entering the season. Sophomore Maddie Friedman stated, “I’m super pumped to compete and hope the team advances. Previously I thought robotics was super intimidating and complicated. Now I realize it’s all about trial and error and practical design thinking!” If the team advances past the regional competition, we will compete at the MATE underwater robotics competition this June in Seattle.