une 28, 2007
Something wonderful is happening at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, and ASU has had a role in making it happen.
At least 58 Carl Hayden seniors have been admitted to ASU, including 13 of them in engineering disciplines, according to teacher Allan Cameron. Many are the first in their families to graduate from high school – and most, if not all, will be the first to attend college. The majority of students at the inner-city school are Hispanic, with limited financial means.
Eleven of the graduating seniors are in the Falcon Robotics Club, an extracurricular science and technology club that has been making headlines for the past four years, ever since their team won a national competition and beat powerhouse universities such as MIT. Two members of that original team are students at ASU, and the current team just played host to their first National Underwater Robotics Challenge in Chandler .
Cameron and his fellow teacher Fredi Lajvardi started the club to show students that engineering can be fun and exciting. Among other projects, the group creates underwater robots that take on different challenges. In the Chandler competition, teams had to remotely drive the robots underwater to the interior of a mock submarine to retrieve two “armed torpedoes” without detonation.
Suzie Kwan, an ASU recruiter and Carl Hayden alumna, has taken the club under her wing, helping them with their activities. But on a larger scale, she and Katie Sisulak, Access ASU coordinator, and others have helped change the culture at Carl Hayden, in the process making ASU a vital part of the high school community. Many ASU faculty are active with the school.
“The bottom line is that, instead of treating the kids as prospective students, they work with the students, talk to them, and get to know them by name,” Cameron says. “ASU representatives are here every week, talking to them about college, how to prepare, how to get in, how to pay for it. Our kids now feel comfortable with ASU.
“The idea of college was pretty foreign a few years ago. It was a major event in our neighborhood if someone graduates from high school. That's changed, and it's now part of our school's culture that you go to college. It's mainly ASU that's doing this.”
Sisulak says it's a misconception that high school students know what to do to prepare for college. She and Kwan bring the students information on ASU summer programs and financial aid resources, as well as presentations from ASU faculty and staff.
“ASU recognizes the talent and efforts at Carl Hayden, and we assist in the matriculation of all their students, not just the robotics team members,” Sisulak says. “Carl Hayden has made great strides in all their academic departments, and ASU is working with the teachers and administrators to bring more AP classes to the school, strengthening the preparation of the students.
“The robotics students at Carl Hayden have found wonderful mentors in Fredi and Allan. They just needed some additional resources to make that next step.”
Sarah Auffret, firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Aaron Tavena
Issue date: 6/21/07 Section: Main Stories
Lorenzo Santillan has been given a crucial task.
Last year, a World War II era German submarine was found at the bottom of the ocean off the New Jersey coast – loaded with two live torpedoes. Santillan, a Phoenix College student, has been charged with figuring out how and why it’s there, and the safest route to get to the torpedoes to disarm them. To do so, he’ll use a remotely controlled underwater robot he built.
On Saturday, June 9, Santillan prepares to direct his robot to the ocean floor in hopes of learning the identity of the submarine. His ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) is a complex amalgam of wires, metals and plastics, with onboard lights and cameras as well as full motion propellers to make the journey as smooth as possible. When the preparations have been made, the ROV is lowered into the murky depths, and the mission begins.
From his command post, Santillan can observe what the camera sees, using a narrow scope to navigate down through the submarine. A crowd of professionals and note takers, including other robotics specialists and Navy men dressed in full uniform, look over his progress. Everyone is eager to see what the robot sees. But before the ROV reaches the bottom, its camera cuts out, leaving Santillan and military officials staring at only a black screen, with no clue where the machine is.
As the onlookers begin to show apprehension, Santillan quickly checks all his connections while frustratingly maneuvering his controls for the ROV. When it finally looks like the problem won’t immediately fix itself, Santillan does what he hoped he wouldn’t have to do.
He asks for a time out.
Santillan goes to the edge of the pool at Chandler High School – site of the first ever National Underwater Robotics Challenge, held earlier this month – and fishes his ROV out of the water. Judges note Santillan’s time.
Teams from all over the region have come here for this competition to take on the same challenge as Santillan – a simulated underwater expedition meant to mirror actual events that took place.
In real life, the mysterious WWII submarine was found 60-miles off the New Jersey coast in 1991 by six divers tipped off by local fisherman. Three of the divers eventually died in what became a six-year, almost life-consuming expedition to discover the truth about the boat. Later discoveries of additional U-boats – the term used for German subs – would lead historians to realize there was far more German activity off the Eastern seaboard than originally thought. At the Chandler competition, a 20-foot creation of PVC pipe and canvas stands in for the lost German submarine. The nighttime school pool is the ocean floor.
The Underwater Robotics Challenge was designed to stimulate growth and technological skill for high school and college students interested in robotics. It is just one of several Arizona-centric robotics events with the same goals. These include First Lego, First Vex and First Robotics. As Santillan pulls the 2-foot robot out of the water, it’s immediately clear that his creation is no less impressive than the giant man-sized excursion robots that you’d see in a typical IMAX documentary.
Santillan, who started in robotics with the local and almost legendary Carl Hayden High School team (it has beaten the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in national competitions), is no stranger to malfunctions in robotics. There used to be more members of his team earlier this year – but now he’s swimming solo. “At the beginning I had people helping me and at the end halfway through the year, they just stopped,” Santillan says.
“All I wanted from them was for them to be there so I could teach them and teach them my past knowledge from Carl Hayden High School in robotics,” Santillan added.
His passion is obvious when he begins speaking about the technical details of his robot. “The design was already made. It was in Carl Hayden hanging around. This frame was already built so I just took it and made it better. The most things that I had to buy was two Pelican cases, silicon, glue and the battery itself.” Pelican cases are watertight cases.
Santillan lifts the hood of his ROV, revealing a “Tron”-like arrangement of wires, circuitry and flashing lights. As the judges and participants stand idly by, watching the clock as the next group prepares its own ROV across the pool, Santillan figures out the problem: it simply needs a new battery. Santillan does a half-walk, half-sprint around the side of the pool with the purpose of finding the battery and getting back before time runs out. While he’s away, robotics judges and Navy ROTC look into the insides of Santillan’s ROV with admiration. Despite its small size and current malfunction, the robot is well-made.
Across the pool, the Women in Applied Sciences team does some final checks on their robot, which benefits from the same frame as Santillan’s ROV, but uses three cameras instead of one. That could possibly lead to three times the malfunctions, prompting numerous last-minute checks. Away from the pool, a real control room stands with over a dozen monitors recording the video feeds from the various robots throughout the night.
While the group waits, two scuba divers swim to the bottom of the submarine to make sure that the artifacts that the contestants are meant to discover remain in place. These include a set of keys and a pair of dog tags that represent important information. Teams competing come from Arizona State University, Phoenix College, Buena High School and Chandler High School.
ASU is well represented, including the Women in Applied Sciences Team, SundevilROV @ ASU Polytechnic and ASU Robodevils. The students each have their own reason for wanting to participate in robotics. However, all the teams end up chasing the cream of the robotics crop, Carl Hayden High School. Oscar Vasquez, an ASU student and member of the ASU Robodevils, recalls his time at Carl Hayden, fondly remembering the robotics competition that awarded Carl Hayden first place, and MIT a second place finish. The story was national news – four immigrants (both Vasquez and Santillan were on the same team) from the West Phoenix streets and their 100-pound monster of a robot, Stinky, taking down the ExxonMobil-sponsored MIT team.
“We beat MIT by .1 points. After that, I was hooked,” on robotics, Vasquez says.
At the pool, Santillan has made it back to the loading zone without injury with a new battery in hand. Quickly replacing the battery with minutes to spare, Santillan has his own pit crew lower the robot into the pool. With renewed vigor, the ROV descends to the bottom of the pool and glides through the submarine. With the clock ticking away, Santillan quickly calls out the artifacts he finds in the bottom of the submarine, including the keys, dog tags and torpedoes.
Carefully avoiding the plastic skeletons meant to represent human remains, Santillan surfaces his robot quickly and calmly, though the post-competition jitters and the perspiration hint that it was a tough run. “It wasn’t the pressure. It was more the running around trying to figure out what was wrong with my robot. I didn’t know what was wrong with it. My friend just looked at it, wiggled the little things here and there and that was it,” Santillan adds. Santillan’s job well done with is rewarded with a third place finish in the challenge. A feat, considering he was on his own.
“I have three years of experience now working in robotics; I’ve built ROVs since I was a sophomore in high school,” Santillan said, hinting at how much he enjoys the work and the skill that could take him far in this business. However, Santillan doesn’t specialize in robotics, engineering or science.
Said Santillan: “My major is culinary arts; this is just a hobby.”
Submitted by jcasey on Thu, 2007-06-21 12:57. News
NURC (National Underwater Robotics Challenge), a competition designed to increase young peoples' interest in science and engineering, was held at Chandler High School, June 8-10, 2007 in Chandler, Arizona . Though a partnership between Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education (APASE) and Honeywell Hometown solutions, NURC brought science and technology educational opportunities to students of all ages across the country.
alt^I provided rich media support to facilitate a live webcast of the event. Webcasting the large competition required the use of 8 stationary underwater cameras, 1-2 cameras mounted to each robot, and a poolside camera to capture the competitors controlling their robots. The feeds from each camera were switched live and mixed with pre-recorded footage created by the teams and streamed to an auditorium where spectators could cheer for their favorite robots and listen to live play-by-play audio commentary of the competition. The video feed was mixed with the play-by-play audio and streamed online via Windows Media and Real digital encoders. Archived footage of the event can be viewed through ASU on iTunes U
State Press, ASU
by Tara Brite