For Immediate Release
Director of Public Relations
Asst. Dir., Media Relations
Three Kids and a Robot Learn to Save the Day
Prescott, Ariz., June 23, 2008 –
A military transport airplane has just gone down in the Atlantic Ocean
off the coast of Senegal. It was carrying a world-renowned scientist,
four vials of an anti-Ebola virus serum, and a hand-held computer with
notes for fighting an Ebola disease outbreak in central Africa.
mission: send a remote-controlled rescue robot into the sunken plane’s
fuselage and bring back the serum and the hand-held computer.
crisis is fiction, but it could easily be fact. It was the simulated
scenario faced by three first-year students from Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University, who won first place in the university division
at the National Underwater Robotics Challenge, held June 6-8 in
Moreno, Cory Ravetto, and Rene Valenzuela, who are majoring in
aerospace engineering at the university’s Prescott, Ariz., campus,
designed and built their winning vehicle, “Medusa,” in only three
The robot’s domed shape – medusa
is Spanish for “jellyfish” – stood out among other contestants’
box-shaped entries and also won the judges award for most unique design
at the three-day competition.
“We just combined our knowledge,” said Ravetto, who met his teammates in freshman engineering classes last year.
Aside from a few electronic parts, the Embry-Riddle students manufactured all hardware for the robot.
there were only three of us, we had to do everything. It taught me a
lot about engineering,” said Valenzuela, who worked on the robot’s
sensors and video camera and “drove” the vehicle.
teams were judged on their technical report, oral presentation, and
simulated rescue mission. During the rescue, teams had to make their
remote-controlled underwater robots locate a submerged aircraft at night
in a pool, navigate inside the fuselage, and perform a variety of
addition to retrieving the four vials of serum and the hand-held
computer, the robots had to measure the temperature where the serum was
found to ensure its viability, measure the depth of the transport plane,
and retrieve the “black box” flight recorder from the downed plane’s
tasks were performed at night to replicate the low light levels of the
ocean floor and used remote control and onboard camera feeds.
The Embry-Riddle students were advised by John Nafziger, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
robotics challenge was organized by the Arizona Promoters of Applied
Science in Education, with participation by Arizona State University and
PHOTOS of the students and their robot: http://www.erau.edu/er/newsmedia/newsreleases/2008/robotteam.html
The Embry-Riddle students discuss their project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhq8lKrUgPY
The Embry-Riddle students test their robot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpxQoTK1zIk
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest,
fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace,
offers more than 30 degree programs in its colleges of Arts and
Sciences, Aviation, Business, and Engineering. The university educates
more than 34,000 students annually in undergraduate and graduate
programs at residential campuses in Prescott, Ariz., and Daytona Beach, Fla.,
through its Worldwide Campus at more than 130 centers in the United
States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, and through online
learning. For more information, visit www.erau.edu.
News AP Forums.com
from Phoenix Country Day School earned the top score in the Pre-High
School Division and first place overall in a National Underwater
Robotics Competition, the Honeywell Hometown Solutions National
Underwater Robotics Challenge, held June 6-8 at Chandler High School.
The event was sponsored by Honeywell Hometown Solutions and APASE, the
Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education. Twenty-one teams
participated in the competition. PCDS competed at the Pre-High School
Level and for the Overall Award against all the other pre-high school,
high school, university and professional teams. Other competitors
included Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, ASU Polytechnic
Institute, ASU School of Engineering, four professional engineering
teams and high school and pre-high school teams from Arizona and
The PCDS Blue Tide team members are Amy Aube (Northeast
Phoenix), Kevin Heath (Ahwatukee), James Hobin (Anthem), Kyle Jackson
(Paradise Valley), Rohit Kothur (Paradise Valley), Ben Mattinson
(Paradise Valley), Frances Rucker (Paradise Valley), Joe Schornak
(Northeast Phoenix) and Avery Silverman (Paradise Valley). These
students just celebrated their eighth-grade commencement at PCDS June
4. The team mentors are Mark Schornak, Joan Silverman, Kevin Jackson,
Patrick Heath and Rob Mattinson. Dennis Kohlman and Peter Wettenstein
contributed industry advice.
The teams were all given a scenario
depicting an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Khartoum, Sudan. A
noted physician was on his way to Khartoum with much-needed serum to
combat the disease. The airplane he was flying in crashed 165 miles off
the coast of Senegal, leaving all the doctor’s important research and
vials of serum at the bottom of the ocean. The mission required the
teams to build an underwater robot, called an ROV (Robotic Oceanographic
Vehicle), which would retrieve the badly needed equipment and the serum
which would cure the deadly virus.
All the participating teams
built ROVs to retrieve certain objects and to collect important data
from a mock-up of a crashed airplane located at the bottom of a pool.
The competition was at night and in the dark, to simulate a deep
The PCDS team, the Blue Tide, is a rookie,
or first year, pre-high school team. Blue Tide’s ROV is named Lloyd.
The team began working on the project in March 2008, first building an
ROV with all of the materials that came directly from the competition
sponsors. It took about 6 weeks to put together this ROV, but after
testing, they realized they needed more power and added extra thrusters
and a new frame design. The new ROV is also called Lloyd.
challenges in an underwater competition are huge. Everything has to be
watertight. The robot has to have speed, power, and fine control in all
directions. The students designed and built their own circuits and
programmed a controller so they could tell the robot what to do. The ROV
needed sensors to measure temperature, depth, and sound. Particularly
frustrating were multiple hydrophone failures and buoyancy problems—it
wouldn’t float!. The team designed and built many different versions of
the needed devices, trying to get them to work properly. The ROV was
tested in the pool at PCDS at night, to work out the kinks.
the hard work came together Saturday night. The ROV went into the pool
at about 9:50 p.m. The PCDS team was Team 4. The ROV was remotely
controlled. The drivers of the ROV were poolside looking away from the
pool at television and projector screens, which showed them what the ROV
was doing in the pool. The tether handlers for the ROV were monitoring
the tether. However, they were not allowed to speak with the drivers
about the mock-up or the location of the ROV.
The only light source
was LED lights mounted on the ROV. The only pictures of the mission
came from the ROV’s own camera system. The drivers used two cameras
which, when used in conjunction with two borrowed PCDS projectors,
created a 3D image on a 6’ by 6’ screen. The drivers wore special
polarized glasses to see the 3D image through Lloyd’s cameras. The
strategy worked. The PCDS team brought home first place in the Pre-high
School Division and first place overall, with the PCDS team earning the
highest number of points of any other competing team.
is looking forward to next year’s FIRST Robotics Challenge on the first
PCDS Upper School Robotics team. They wish to thank Headmaster Geoff
Campbell for his strong support, without which none of this would have
been possible. The team also wishes to thank Liz Olson, Andy Surber,
Jenny Treadway, Jenny Cherilla and Joan Risley for their help and
support, as well as athletic director Bob Kosower for allowing us to use
the PCDS pool. The robotics club at PCDS was formed after a
presentation to the students by Fredi Lajvardi, a teacher and the
robotics coach at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix.
Final thanks go to our team sponsors, industry advisors and parents for all of their support.
Submitted by Ilene Aube
Thursday, June 12, 2008
By Paula Rhoden, The Daily Courier
PRESCOTT - The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Underwater Robotics Research Team has set the bar high.
its first competition, and first year of existence, the Flying Goldfish
brought home the first-place trophy for college level at the second
annual National Underwater Robotics Challenge at Chandler High School on
The team also received a special judges award for its unique design.
Valenzuela, Cory Ravetto and Eduardo Moreno formed the Underwater
Robotics Research Team to explore a different field of study -
The young men built an underwater
remote-controlled robot capable of retrieving items from the sea floor.
Its circular shape and dome was a contrast to the box shapes of most of
the other entries. The team mounted a camera in the dome that provided a
Valenzuela said a 30-minute pool competition
was just one part of the scoring. Judges also looked at the team's
technical report, oral presentation,
video submission and website.
The true test came when it was time to put their robot in the water. Its round shape and running lights caused quite a stir.
The organizers based the underwater mission scenario on the book "The Hot Zone" and the movie "Outbreak."
mission required competitors to recover submerged objects, take
measurements, and decode underwater acoustic signals in order to stop
the advance of an ebola epidemic.
Each team's pilot navigated their robot through a military airplane crash off the coast of Senegal.
The robots would try to recover vials of serum, the transport's flight
recorder and the Personal Data Assistant of a world-renowned researcher
containing valuable scientific data to prevent a worldwide pandemic.
Valenzuela said the team experienced a few problems.
couple of our magnets fell off. We had glued them on with superglue,
but when the robot went into the chlorinated pool water, they came off.
Also, our lights were in a fixed position and reflected back into the
dome," he said.
Moreno piloted the robot. He said he could have used more practice.
"The pilot can only see what the camera picks up and shows on a television," Moreno said.
Valenzuela and Ravetto could watch the action from the side of the
pool, they could not communicate with Moreno during the competition.
"More time for preparation is definitely necessary, as is practice piloting the robot in the water," Valenzuela said.
said they hope their success will encourage other ERAU students to join
the club. He said that since the competition is open to high school
students, they hope to make contact with local students and create an
interest in underwater robotics.
Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robotics teams meet the challenge
by Ray Parker - Jun. 10, 2008 06:38 AM
The Arizona Republic
Country Day School students won the second National Underwater Robotics
Challenge, which took place this past weekend at Chandler High School.
There were double the number of teams competing this year with 21 from Arizona and California, representing students from elementary schools to college and professional teams.
The Phoenix Country Day School Blue Tide team won first place in two categories: pre-high school and overall winner.
cumulative score from different categories, which included a technical
report, oral presentation, mission score, video and Web site
submissions, decided the overall winner.
of the winning team are Amy Aube (lives in Northeast Phoenix), Kevin
Heath (Ahwatukee), James Hobin (Anthem), Kyle Jackson (Paradise Valley),
Rohit Kothur (Paradise Valley), Ben Mattinson (Paradise Valley),
Frances Rucker (Paradise Valley), Joe Schornak (Northeast Phoenix) and
Avery Silverman (Paradise Valley).
team mentors are Mark Schornak, Joan Silverman, Kevin Jackson, Patrick
Heath and Rob Mattinson. Dennis Kohlman and Peter Wettenstein
contributed industry advice.
This year's scenario for the competition was based on the book The Hot Zone and the movie Outbreak.
Each team used a remote-controlled vehicle, or ROV, to recover a vial
of serum necessary to stop an Ebola outbreak inside a submerged plane.
addition, teams recovered the airplane's flight recorder and a Palm
Pilot of a researcher with valuable scientific data, among other tasks.
The event was held during the night, and throughout the early morning, to simulate deep-sea lighting conditions.
Other first-place winners:
• High-school category: Site 3 Engineering of Jesuit High School in California.
• College level: Flying Goldfish from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.
• Club/professional category: Falcon Alumni team.
• Judge's award for unique design: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education, a grassroots,
non-profit group, organized the event to bring scientific events to
students beyond the classroom.
Information: h2orobots.org and apaseplace.org.
Member Blog: TeacherMan30 Blog
Local School National Champs!
I knew this would happen someday. i didn't think it would happen so soon.
school that beat everyone (Universities, high schools, elementary
schools and one team of engineers) in the National Underwater Robot
Challenge is Phoenix Country Day School, a middle school team. Amazing
kids. They made quit a splash in the robot community this weekend.
Embry Riddle's entry resembled a UFO!
You can see the mission set up and a speeded up video of the Carl Hayden team.
( Interesting that this video was coppied from the live webcast,
editied and posted in Europe) The Carl Hayden Falcon team's score was
not eligible for consideration since they are the main designers and
builders of the competition. Besides, they win enough of these kinds
Blue Tide, a group of junior high students from Phoenix Country Day
School in Phoenix, Arizona, was the top winner of the 2nd annual
National Underwater Robotics Challenge that took place at Chandler High
School, located in Chandler, Arizona, on June 6, 7 and 8, 2008.
event was open to students from elementary schools to college and
professional teams. The underwater mission scenario was complex and
exciting. In total, 21 teams from Arizona and California participated in
The first place winner in the pre-high school
category was Blue Tide of Phoenix Country Day School. The first place
winner in the high school category was Site 3 Engineering of Jesuit High
School in California. First place in the college level competition was
Flying Goldfish from Embry Riddle University in Prescott, Arizona. The
winner of the club/professional category was team Falcon Alumni.
overall winner, Blue Tide of Phoenix Country Day School was decided by a
cumulative score from different categories of judging which included a
technical report, oral presentation, mission score, video submission and
website submission. The overall winner of the event for the 2008 NURC
competition EBOLA OUTBREAK was Blue Tide from Phoenix Country Day
A special judge’s award was given to Embry Riddle University for unique design.
All the scores and awards are here.
National Underwater Robotics Challenge was web-cast live and was also
followed play by play by an audience gathered at the Chandler High
Auditorium and five "overflow" rooms. The robots built for the challenge
had video and lighting capabilities.
This Challenge took place
amid the backdrop of an exciting scenario based on the book “The Hot
Zone” and the movie “Outbreak“. The mission for the competition
consisted of recovering submerged objects, taking measurements, and
decoding underwater acoustic signals in order to stop the advance of an
Ebola epidemic. Robots were navigated through a military airplane crash
site off the coast of Senegal. The participants’ robots would try to
recover vials of serum, the transport's flight recorder, and the PDA of a
world renowned researcher containing valuable scientific data needed to
prevent the advance of a world wide pandemic.
The teams piloted
their ROV (Remote Operated Vehicles) robots during the night in order
to simulate deep sea lighting conditions.
The event also had the
generous support of Honeywell Home Town Solutions, AARP, Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institute, Chandler High School, The Outback Steak House,
Channel 99, ASU Applied Learning Technologies Institute (Alt^I), SEAD,
Lights, Camera, Action, Si Se Puede Foundation, among others.
More videos, pictures and such will be posted on the www.h2oRobots.org website over the next few days.
Chandler High dives into underwater robotics
by Ray Parker - Jun. 5, 2008 01:28 PM
The Arizona Republic
The mission involves recovering submerged objects from a downed airplane, items needed to stop a deadly epidemic.
the scenario this weekend at Chandler High School, where there will be
double the number of players for the second National Underwater Robotics
In addition to Arizona
teams from Chandler, Tempe and Gilbert, others are coming from Texas,
Oregon and California. There are categories for grade school, high
school and college students.
Alexander, a Chandler computer teacher and robotics coach, said it's all
about getting students interested in science and engineering.
got to spark that interest in kids for science and engineering if we're
going to compete in the world," Alexander said. "It seems to be working
because we've got a lot more teams this year."
the game scenario, each team will use a remote-controlled vehicle, or
ROV, to recover a vial of serum necessary to stop an Ebola outbreak. In
addition, teams will need to recover the airplane's flight recorder and a
Palm Pilot of a researcher with valuable scientific data.
competition will be held overnight Saturday and into early morning
Sunday at the school's pool to simulate deep-sea lighting conditions.
The competition resulted from several groups coming together so students could beef up on their science and technical skills.
taking kids who otherwise would not be interested in science or any
type of club, but they enjoy robotics," said Alberto Esparza, who
founded the non-profit Si Se Puede Foundation, which has helped more
than 1,900 Chandler students since 1992 and has grade school level teams
in the competition.
The scenario for the competition is based on the book The Hot Zone and the movie Outbreak.
creating multiple hooks for the students," said Faridodin "Fredi"
Lajvardi, a Carl Hayden High science teacher who developed the
competition. "A lot of students are booked to death and this gives them
some fun, and maybe some of them can't do well in class but can do well
using their hands, plus we've got girls and guys and different ages
Enrique Canedo, 13, (left) and Ezori Merrill, 10, submerge their
underwater robot while testing in the Chandler High School swimming pool
Wednesday. The National Underwater Robotics Challenge 2008 will be held
at the school.
More on this topic
Underwater robotics challenge
Where: Chandler High School Aquatic Center, 350 N. Arizona Ave.
When: The community is invited to watch the competition, which starts at 8 p.m. Saturday and continues until 4 a.m. Sunday.
challenge also can be viewed on a live video stream. The video will
come from the teams' remotely controlled vehicles and underwater
cameras. It will be broadcast to a gallery and posted online at