Young engineers to vie for world championship

(Johan Govaars works on an Ocean Bottom Seismonitor recently as part of the Aptos High School underwater robotics team as they prepare to compete in a national event later this month. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

APTOS — Last year, the Aptos High School robotics team took top honors in both state and international competitions for building a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that performed a series of complex underwater tasks.

In doing so, the team bested competitors from around the globe.

The group of 12, who are aged 15-17, is called Watsonville Firefighters Seal Team 1272 after the group that sponsored them.

“The competition was an amazing experience and a great place to observe and learn from the machines other people built,” team programmer Pratham Rathi said.

ROVs are human controlled robots that are employed to solve a variety of jobs in places where humans cannot reach.

The ROV Jason, for example, was used to observe the wreckage of the sunken Titanic.

The team’s ROV is Argo V, a nod to the ship of Greek myth in which Jason and his compatriots sailed to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

Now, having again won the Marine Advanced Technology Education center annual ROV competition at Watsonville High School on May 12, the team is once again preparing to defend its international crown.

That competition — held this year in Seattle, Wash. from June 22-25 — draws elite young engineers from around the globe who pit their homebuilt, underwater robots against each other.


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