Skill, calculation, wit, and teamwork were all put to the test on Wednesday, Nov. 19 as animated geology students showcased the remotely operated vehicles they built in a fishing contest for toy crabs at the campus pool.
On this particular lab day, professor Elizabeth A. Nagy-Shadman had her students build their own ROVs out of polyvinyl chloride pipes, which are long pipes people normally get at a hardware store to replace their broken water pipe at home. She also provided the students motors and propellers to attach to the pipes so the device students built can navigate in the water.
Shadman first got the idea from another oceanography professor at the Daytona State College at a workshop and thought it would be a good experience for students here at PCC to learn from. ROV’s are one of the many tools that the oceanographers use to navigate the ocean.
“These are things that oceanographers used to go under the water to cap wells and take biological samples,” Shadman said. “So ROVs are kind of important in the world!”
Few of the students knew what an ROV was before the class lecture, and almost none knew how to build their own.
Shadman explained, prior to this project, that she gave the class a 30 minute lecture introducing what ROVs are. Then she sent the students on their way to the basement of the E building to make their own ROV.
“I think for me it was a great break away of what we usually do in this class. Not just paperwork, it was more hands on, which I like a lot,” student Roxanna Romero said, who felt very excited for this particular project.
Students were put in teams of two or three people with a total of five groups and had about an hour and a half to design and build their underwater navigator. Students had to use their ROV to pick up toy crabs that were scattered at bottom of the pool, and not every group was successful.
Megan Torres, Sarah Gu, and Chris Van’s group were the “champions” for this exercise, where they were able to pick up four toy crabs with the ROV they built.
“I looked up online what would be the most efficient, and I saw a lot of them were cubed shaped, so then we started with a cube shape but ours turned out more to be an rectangular and it was extremely efficient,” said Torres.
Romero’s group on the other hand wasn’t able to keep their ROV underwater because their ROV design had bubble wrap wrapped around the bottom of their vehicle. At first the group thought it could be used as a net for their ROV, but little did the group know that the bubble wrap actually kept their ROV from submerging for a long time.
“I think for my group particularly we were just really excited … For us, we really just got carried away,” Romero said. “Although we didn’t get any [toy crabs], building it was more fun! Though the execution not so well!” Romero explained, as she laughed it off.
With all the students having no prior experience in building ROVs, Shadman was really pleased with the results that came out of this experiment.
“This particular lab [had] no preparation, they came into the class I gave them half hour lecture and then I said ‘Let’s go!’ so none of them even knew this was going to happen they were completely unprepared and they did a fantastic job and they loved it,” Shadman said. “They had a great time.”
After the success of this “experiment,” Shadman would love to make it a consistent project, and even encourages her students to enter ROV-building competitions in the future.
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