Students learn about engineering in remotely operated vehicle competition

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On Sunday, March 30th, dozens of southeastern Wisconsin students found themselves using science and math in a creative competition. Discovery World in downtown Milwaukee played host to the "Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition."

"It's a big deal for me. I mean, I've never really done something like this before," Reagan Romano with University School of Milwaukee said.

Romano was in good company on Sunday in the land of unfamiliar titles, terms and techniques.

"We have the Arduino microcontroller. We also have servos, here, which are motors that we can use to manipulate our gripper. We have, actually, a total of 10 working cameras, on our ROV," a student said -- showing FOX6 News his robot.

Discovery World hosted Wisconsin's Regional 2014 "Building the Water Generation" remotely operated vehicle competition.

"In 2012, our Wisconsin regional entry went off and won top prize at the international competition," ROV competition coordinator Tom Consi said.

Teams from six Milwaukee area high schools and five middle schools were challenged to design, build and operate an ROV to identify an unknown shipwreck recently discovered in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary waters, collect microbial samples and remove trash and debris from the shipwreck and surrounding area.

"They learn physics in school, and it could be kind of dry, but if you suddenly see those concepts applied to a robot—in our case—a robot underwater, you suddenly say 'hey, I do wanna take physics!’" Consi said.

Eventually, the hope is that these students want to take physics to a new level, which has the attention of the dean of UW-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences.

"Working together as a team, working on the science, working on the engineering—what they’re really learning to do is to set themselves a career for life," David Garmin said.

"I wanna be an engineer when I grow up, so it's just a lot of fun for me and I'm really excited," Romano said.

The winner of the high school level contest earns an opportunity to attend the international competition which is being held in Alpena, Michigan in late June.

The results of the competition are as follows: