4 AHS students prep for ROV competition

ALPENA – Four Alpena High School students have been working since mid February on a remotely operated vehicle for the Great Lakes Regional MATE ROV Competition to be held at Alpena Plaza Pool on April 20. The competition gives the ROV teams tasks for their vehicle to perform in the pool based on a yearly theme, this year’s being Ocean Observing Systems.

The teams must complete underwater mission tasks, technical reports, engineering presentations and poster displays. There are three classes of competition from basic to advanced: Scout, Ranger, and Explorer.

This is the second year the AHS team will be competing in the Ranger class at the regional competition.

“There used to be ROV teams at the high school, but they died out,” member Scott Parkham said. “We started it back up last year.”

The team has been paying for most equipment out of pocket and with small local fundraisers.

“We held a bottle drive to help purchase the aluminum for the framework,” member Courtney VanWagoner said. “The aluminum is more expensive than the PVC, but it works better and looks better.”

Parkham and Cory McConnell have been working on the ROV at their homes welding the frame and soldering the electrical components.

“The wiring was complicated,” McConnell said. “I took an electrical class at AHS that taught me how to solder and help with the wiring.”

All four members had to decide on a functional shape for mission completion, placement of motors to ensure buoyancy and the best place for an underwater video camera.

“A big part of building (the ROV) is balance,” VanWagoner said.

The team has put in over 30 hours on the ROV construction and balance, and will continue to work on it until the competition in April.

“We learn a lot about science and engineering,” VanWagoner said.

“And problem solving and teamwork,” Parkham said.

The whole team agreed saying that a lot of the construction was based on trial and error of different ideas, shapes and placement.

“It’s hard work sticking together and working as a team, but we power through it,”VanWagoner said. “If I didn’t really like it, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Student teams must have one student designated as the team captain/company CEO, and at least one faculty member or adult mentor involved in the process. ACC Marine Technology instructor Dave Cummins, and AHS instructor John Caplis are mentoring this year’s AHS team.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.