The NCSU Underwater Robotics Club at the 2013 ONR AUVSI Robosub Competition
The NC State University Underwater Robotics Club has two passions. One is to improve each other's technical skills. The other is to spread their passion for robotics into the community. Because of their efforts in outreach, they were recently honored at the annual ONR AUVSI Robosub competition in San Diego, CA.
Since 1998, the RoboSub competition has advanced the development of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) by challenging a new generation of engineers to perform realistic missions in a demanding underwater environment. The primary emphasis of the competition are education and career preparation.
Each year at the RoboSub competition, a special award is giving for Outreach. This year, the NCSU Underwater Robotics Club was honored, along with two other teams, with this award. As a part of the Outreach Award, the club received a $500 gift. The club has contributed over 700 hours to a variety of outreach activities.
"The majority of our outreach was to elementary schools, in particular 4th and 5th graders, at schools that wanted to highlight STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). We were contacted by these schools and we wanted to show the students what STEM can lead to," says Matt Wiggins, a senior in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the president of the NCSU Underwater Robotics Club.
"We would show videos of our work and the robot. We would also let the students see the robot. This would allow them to see what they could create down the road," says Wiggins.
This last year, the club utilized E-Week at NC State, to reach out to more NCSU students. In the past year, the club has grown from 8 active students to over 30. These were mostly freshman who previously had exposure to robotics.
Some of the plans for the upcoming year are to increase the outreach to the community and to start a small competition for underwater robotics at NC State called Seaperch.
The NCSU Underwater Robotics Club was founded in 2004 and is a student run organization that design and builds autonomous submersible robots to participate in the annual RoboSub Competition.