Indiana State to host inaugural state championship in robotics competition

April 8, 2011

Students from more than 15 high school teams will compete in an inaugural statewide underwater robotics competition April 16 at Indiana State University.

ISU will host the Indiana SeaPerch State Challenge, which will feature teams of students using underwater remotely operated vehicles to compete in several events. The state challenge will feature an underwater obstacle course; a salvage competition, which will require the vehicles to retrieve rings to place them in underwater baskets; and an amphibious assault, which requires the vehicles to navigate an obstacle course on both land and underwater.

ISU students will judge the competition and facilitate the events. They will also lead the participating high school students on a tour of ISU's College of Technology.

"We are extremely happy that Indiana State University and the College of Technology have taken SeaPerch up to this level and have been very supportive of our efforts to get SeaPerch in the classroom," said Jay Inman, co-director of Indiana SeaPerch and STEM coordinator for Technology Service Corp.

Teams that won regional events earlier this year in Bloomington and Evansville will be competing in the state challenge at Indiana State. The event at ISU is also the first SeaPerch competition in which the teams that win each of the three different events will be invited to compete at the national competition next month in Philadelphia, Inman said.

"I think that kids have a tendency to enjoy robotics and when you add in the aquatic side to things, having the opportunity to build an underwater robot is pretty cool," Inman said of SeaPerch, "and to be able to tweak it to do what you want it to do is very exciting and really engages the students, and makes them want to learn more about marine architecture and engineering."

As part of their involvement with SeaPerch, participating schools receive a kit to assemble the underwater vehicle, along with educational lessons about how the vehicle works. The kits are funded through a grant from the Office of Naval Research. The program is designed so that schools cannot spend additional money on the vehicle to gain an unfair advantage, Inman said.

"In the last year, we've seen an increase in student participation of 254 percent," he said, "and we hope that SeaPerch will continue to expand in Indiana so that all schools get an opportunity to participate."

Contact: Jay Inman, co-director of Indiana SeaPerch and STEM coordinator for Technology Service Corp., jay.inman@tsc.com.

Kara Harris, technology and engineering education program coordinator and director of undergraduate academic student services, 812-237-9633 or kara.harris@indstate.edu.

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu.