Robotics workshop moves to next phase


The Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument announced yesterday the selection of 20 students for the second part of its Marine Ecology via Remote Observation Workshop.

During this second half of the program, students will receive training in building, operating, and maintaining observation-class remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, also known as underwater drones or underwater robots. These students will be taught by eight facilitators trained in train-the-trainer portion of the workshop.

Over a span of four days, students from Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam will build research-grade ROVs and learn skills such as soldering electronics, acrylic fabrication, and building underwater housings while learning the fundamentals of marine ecology using underwater vehicles.

Students will then have the opportunity to take the robots out in the field to conduct surveys and gain a greater understanding of how underwater robots can be used to complement ocean research and monitoring programs.

This model provides an intensive STEM-education opportunity for students while establishing a sustainable, long-term robotics program in the CNMI through facilitator training.

At the end of this program, six ROVs will be presented to community groups within the CNMI, such as the Okeanos Marianas, for community-driven ocean monitoring, research, and exploration.

This project is being conducted in collaboration with Northern Mariana Trades Institute as the main host, along with other community partners.

The student portion of this workshop will commence April 19 and end April 22. The public is welcome to view field operations in the afternoon on the last day of the workshop, April 22, which is also Earth Day. Location will be announced next week.

This workshop is made possible through a NOAA grant awarded to Dr. Andrew Thaler, a Friends member and marine and conservation scientist. The workshop is coordinated by the Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument and hosted by Northern Marianas Trades Institute. Demonstrations and field ops are being hosted by Seatouch-Saipan. (PR)

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