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UTRGV hosts SeaPerch Challenge

Michael Iglesias (left) and Cristian Sanchez of the AquaMeg MK IV team from Veterans Memorial High School in Mission conduct a final test before competing in the Challenge Course. Iglesias said his team will gain a better understanding of the design aspect of engineering. “We learned how to do the [designing] process subconsciously,” Iglesias said. “The process itself, it allows us to actually tackle the problems step by step with organization and everything, [and it’s] a very strong factor in our experience in the future.” STEVEN HUGHES/THE RIDER PHOTOS

Thirty-five teams, each consisting of five students from middle to high school and a coach from across the Rio Grande Valley, participated in the U.S. Navy SeaPerch Challenge from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. today in the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District’s Aquatic Center.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Franco (left) times Edinburg High School Robocats members, Rodrigo Garcia (center) and Jose Daniel Hernandez as their ROV performs in the obstacle course. Garcia said he is proud to see his ROV in action. “I think it [took us] one week to create the ROV,” he said. “We are pretty excited … to [see] the robot and to see [it] working.”
William Bardwell, coach of the Hybrid Theory team of San Isidro High School, said he would go over what went right and wrong with his team regardless of whether they win or not.

“These kids have been working on this project for a couple of weeks,” Bardwell said. “We wish we had more time with it. … It’s a good opportunity for them to experience and have exposure [to] all of the science, engineering principles.”

The competition consisted of three evolutions:

–Team Presentations: Students presented their underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to a panel of judges consisting of U. S. Navy officers;

–Obstacle Course: Students placed their ROVs in the pool and collected rings. Points are awarded based on how fast they completed the course;

–Challenge Course: Students collected rings and placed them on a cube in the pool. They received points based on how many rings they placed on the cube;

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Franco, among others, judged the event. Franco said he was excited to see how creative the teams were in making their ROVs.

“Today [is] a big day for all the high schools that are here competing with the SeaPerch,” he said. “It’s one of main events we are proud to sponsor and be part of it, as well. Best of luck to anybody within the competition.”

Cmdr. Jeffrey M. Reynolds expected to see the motivation in the students during the event.

Members of the Rattler Robotics from Rio Grande City HIgh School Aaron Santos (from left), Matthew Saenz and Alyssa Alaniz test out their ROV before the competition. Alaniz said her team created an ROV that was different compared to other teams. “[The SeaPerch Challenge is] a competition where people kind of follow the rules, but there’s a couple of schools that do different designs,” she said.
“This is a big event for the Navy, because we sponsor this nationwide,” Reynolds said. “It’s a great opportunity, because the Navy does value STEM. We’re one of the largest employers of STEM-related jobs.”

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