UTRGV attracts young STEM minds to SeaPerch Challenge in Brownsville

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Los Fresnos High School takes first in competition

Los Fresnos High School took first place at the 2020 SeaPerch Challenge held at the Brownsville ISD Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center on Friday, Jan. 17. The competition kicked off a new format to Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) this spring semester. Second place went to Roma High School and third place was awarded to Harlingen Early High School. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

Texas Border Business

By Victoria Brito Morales

Brownsville, TEXAS –  HESTEC launched the start of yearlong festivities on Friday with the annual SeaPerch Challenge, held at the Brownsville ISD Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center.

Hosted by UTRGV and the U.S. Navy, SeaPerch is an underwater robotics competition for high school students. Through the use of remote operated vehicles or ROVs, the students utilize STEM concepts to command their devices.

This winners of this year’s SeaPerch Challenge 2020 are:

  • Los Fresnos High School – 1st place.
  • Roma High School – 2nd place.
  • Harlingen Early College High School, Team 2 – 3rd place.

The first- and second-place winners now advance to the National SeaPerch Challenge, scheduled for May 30-31 at the University of Maryland.

Karen Dorado, UTRGV director of special programs, said SeaPerch is an annual event designed to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics awareness in education.

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“This competition has been part of HESTEC for many years,” she said, “and we host it to be able to promote STEM fields and our university.”

High school students from across the Rio Grande Valley participated in this year’s event, which has three main components: the obstacle, the challenge, and the interview.

During the obstacle, each team has two attempts to navigate its ROV device underwater through a variety of loops.

The challenge has teams place rings on different platforms underwater to accumulate points for each successful placement.

And for the interview, teams meet with UTRGV faculty and a U.S. Navy representative to discuss how they built their ROV devices.

REAL-LIFE ROBOTICS IN PRACTICE

Pictured are students from Donna placing their ROV in the water during the 2020 SeaPerch Challenge held at the Brownsville ISD Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center on Friday. Hosted by UTRGV and the U.S. Navy, SeaPerch is an underwater robotics competition for high school students.

Macario Guerra, coach of the Roma High School team, said students received their unassembled ROV device in December and began work on assembly.

Julie Hernandez and Ashley Magaña, juniors at Roma HS, said the most important knowledge acquired during the assembly process was the emphasis on teamwork and adjustments.

And the event itself provided important lessons about maneuvering.

“The current will take the object you’re moving to the side during navigation, and if the vertical motors aren’t powerful enough, challenges will occur,” Hernandez said.

For more information on upcoming HESTEC events, contact Karen Dorado, UTRGV Director of Special Programs, at [email protected].

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