Published on June 13th, 2016 | by The Kitsap Scene0
Kitsap Sailors Volunteer at Bremerton ROV Competition
By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob G. Sisco
Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
BREMERTON, Wash. — “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.”
This quote by Dave Barry is what Commanding Officer of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport, Capt. Eugene (Doug) LaCoste started his opening speech of the 5th annual Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) Competition at Olympic High School in Bremerton, Washington, June 11 with, to get the students excited about the future of engineering.
“What we are trying to do here is introduce the kids to the science of the engineering side of things,” said LaCoste. “What they can do, what they can build, and what they can use these robotics to do.”
More than 100 high school, middle school, and elementary school students used their ROVs to maneuver through obstacles, pick up and move debris and use a camera mounted on their ROVs to identify objects. All of the obstacles that the students were faced with mirrored real life scenarios.
“I am amazed at how detailed a lot of the requirements are for this competition,” said LaCoste. “These students have really done an amazing job at putting together their ROVs to go through a pretty rigorous testing schedule that they are going to go through this morning. It is amazing at what they have done at a high school, junior high and even elementary level. I am pretty impressed.”
It took the majority of the students six weeks to build their ROVs. Most students had little or no experience with them.
“When we go out to the classroom we are generating an interest that maybe the student doesn’t know is there,” said the co-coordinator of the competition, Stephen Mastel. “If they have that interest or if it has been generated during the build in the classroom then this is the how far can you take it. It is about getting their minds thinking. It gives those students who have the interest something more to strive for.”
While some students chose to participate in the competition it is a requirement for others. This was the case for North Kitsap High School students Nate Blanchard and Daniel Bannon. But they didn’t let the obligation of the competition weigh them down.
“It is a really cool field to study,” said Bannon. “We took inspiration from actual ROVs with our design. We wanted to make it as good as it could be.”
“We took a long time brain storming and going through different ideas for our design,” said Blanchard. “There are multiple ways you can go about this project with the different designs that are available. We spent a long time researching and getting a good idea of the best method.”
The excitement that was generated in Blanchard and Bannon is one of the reasons that the Office of Naval Research, Naval Sea Systems Command, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility among others continue to fund the ROV-type programs.
“The idea is to inspire them of what is possible in the future,” said LaCoste. “You never know the one that is going to end up coming into the navy. Or that is going to design that new underwater cable or oil exploration item. Something that is going to be beneficial to the U.S. Navy or the U.S. as a whole.”