CCHS underwater robot places in top 10

Published 11:51 am Friday, May 11, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County High School Tigers Robotics team placed in the top 10 at the Northern Gulf Coast regional site for the Marine Advanced Technology Education competition with its underwater robot.

“Teams of middle and high school students, along with their teachers/mentors, design, build, and test their own ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) before coming to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to compete against other student teams in a series of scientific missions,” engineering teacher Jay LeCroy said.

The team included Allie Lightsey, Madi Price, Anna Smith, Tilby Minor, Hannah Wilson, Abbey Porter and Madison Minor. Although Minor and Porter were unable to attend the competition, they worked on the elements that could be completed ahead of time.

The competition ran from May 3-5 and was the culmination of months of work.

“The girls first presented the engineering and business model to the Lions Club in January and received a grant to purchase the parts to build the robot,” LeCroy said. “The girls attended the Girls Engaged in Math and Science Expo in Birmingham in March to present the engineering project. They spoke to young girls from around the state to inspire the next generation to get involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes.”

Price and Tilby said they enjoyed testing the robot at the pool while preparing for the completion.

“When the actual driving portion of the competition came around, our robot wouldn’t turn right for some reason, so that was challenging trying to pick up (an) object from down in the water … but we still did pretty good on that portion,” Price said.

She said the team was able to stay in a good mood, and that helped with the stress.

“I feel like everyone did so good on their own parts, and we worked very well together,” Price said.

This was the first time any of the students had competed in the underwater robot competition.

“We had no idea what to expect. We were relieved that our ROV was up to par with the other robots,” Miller said.

During the testing portion, Miller was calculating where the robot needed to go.

“I sat with the judges and did the math calculations to locate where the plane crashed that our robot was supposed to retrieve,” Miller said. “We also had to market our robot to an audience. Our presentation went smoothly as well.”

LeCroy said the team represented the county well with a good project and strong presentation skills.

“In addition to engineering their ROVs, the students are required to prepare technical reports, poster displays and engineering presentations that are delivered to working professionals who serve as competition judges,” LeCroy said.

He said the team stayed calm even while presenting in front of a panel of professionals with doctorate degrees.

Tammy Price also served as a coach for the team, and engineering teacher Jason Sosa taught he students how to design and construct the robot.

Porter said it was challenging to design something electrical that could safely go under water.

“It was challenging, but it was fun,” Porter said. “I enjoyed every second of it.”

She said she hopes more female students will take advantage of the opportunities they have to take STEM classes and enter related fields.