Robots have been used to explore the deepest reaches of the Mariana Trench in recent years. This month, local students will have the chance to learn the basics of underwater exploration using drones provided by a federal grant.
The Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument are pleased to announce the selection of facilitators for the Marine Ecology Via Remote Observation Workshop. During this program, facilitators will receive training in the construction, operation, and maintenance of observation-class remotely operate vehicles (ROVs, also known as underwater drones or underwater robots).
Facilitators will then participate in a student-training workshop where they will instruct students from junior high, high schools, Northern Marianas College and Northern Mariana Trades Institute. Facilitators and students will also have the opportunity to take the robots out for field work at Seatouch in Garapan (and possibly other active research sites in Saipan) to conduct surveys and gain a greater understanding of how underwater robots can be used to compliment ocean research and monitoring programs. This model allows not only an intensive STEM-education opportunity for students in Saipan, but by providing training for local and regional facilitators, helps to establish a sustainable, long-term robotics program in the CNMI.
At the conclusion of this program, six ROVs will be presented to select community groups within the CNMI for community-driven ocean monitoring, research, and exploration. This project is being conducted in collaboration with NMTI as the main host along with other community partners including Seatouch and Okeanos Marianas.
The selected facilitators are:
• Jerry Joseph, 500 Sails/Okeanos Marianas
• Erin Derrington, Northern Marianas College
• David Benavente, Northern Marianas College
• Claus Bier, Northern Mariana Trade Institute
• Rodney Camacho, CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality
• Robert Jordan, Koa Consulting LLC
• Roy Adsit, Saipan Southern High School
• Julia Berg, University of Guam Marine Lab
The workshop will commence April 14 and end April 22—Earth Day!
This workshop is made possible through a NOAA grant awarded to Dr. Andrew Thaler, a Friends member and marine and conservation scientist. (PR)