New Trier Robotics Club hits the pool
While New Trier High School junior Warren Fay of Wilmette (center,) takes a turn to drive the student-built robot in the Splash Landing pool, club members (left,) senior Matt Teichert, junior Byron Hopps and (right,) junior Ellliot Solomon watch it's prog
Updated: March 7, 2013 1:44PM
GLENVIEW — The group of New Trier High School students meeting at the Glenview Park District pool isn’t the Trevian swim team.
Normally working with land robots, the New Trier Robotics Club took their new challenge to the shallow end of the swimming pool with their recently constructed underwater robot.
Junior Brendan Schretter of Wilmette was lucky enough to be the one in the water to help test the robot while his fellow club members worked poolside to prepare for a competition later this month.
“I help with the setup and adjustments of the robot,” Schretter said while working to properly distribute the robot’s weight. Schretter even waved to his fellow students above water through the robot’s underwater camera.
“One of the hardest parts is coming up with initial concepts because you don’t know how anything will react under water,” said junior Warren Fay, of Wilmette, who is the head of the robotics club.
The robot was designed with PVC pipe and includes the underwater camera, bilge pump propellers and a claw arm to grab onto and move objects.
“It’s difficult because most of the year we work on normal robots,” said sophomore Celia Denman of Wilmette. “There’s more to worry about with water currents and keeping the robot level.”
Initially the robot was top heavy but a few adjustments by Schretter allowed it to move freely throughout the water and testing began.
The students are preparing for the upcoming Marine Advanced Technology Education underwater robotics competition, which is run through the Shedd Aquarium and held at the University of Chicago on Mar. 23.
“Not only are they learning to work in teams but also with problem solving, science and math,” club sponsor Chip Finck said. “Hopefully we’ll learn from other teams too. When the kids heard about the underwater competition they were all fired up and ready to jump in the pool.”
During the test run the students piloted the robot to fetch pipes laying at the bottom of the pool. The competition will simulate removing barnacles with the robot’s underwater claw and the club will have a couple more pool days to get everything ready.
“(The challenge) is it’s three dimensional,” said junior Byron Hopps of Winnetka. “You don’t just drive on flat ground and you have to worry about balance and buoyancy. It’ll be fun to see other people’s designs and their approach to the same problems.”
The competition will be the first underwater challenge for the club, which was founded in the 2001-02 school year.