OHS robotics team chalks up another win

Students who overcame technical glitch to edge out Oostburg, claim ninth consecutive victory in regional ROV competition head to international round

OZAUKEE HIGH SCHOOL’S underwater robotics team took first place at a regional competition a couple weeks ago and will compete in the MATE International Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle Competition at the end of June in Federal Way, Wash. Members of the team stood with their ROV next to a pool, including (from left) Max Frey, Zach Wagner, Hannah Nordby, Nick Janik, Hannah Bell, Amy Wolff and Eli Bayer. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

A heart-stopping technical glitch didn’t drown Ozaukee High School’s underwater robotics team’s chances of taking first place in a regional competition.

The team won the Marine Advanced Technology Educational Wisconsin Regional Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle Competition on April 29 for the ninth year in a row and is heading to an international competition in Federal Way, Wash.

“We do everything robotics teams do, but we do it underwater,” said team mentor Bob Wagner. “The competition is designed to simulate if you were 1,000 feet down in a shipwreck. The only thing they can see is from their television monitor.”

The regional event was held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Recreation–Klotsche Center, where nine other schools competed against Ozaukee High School’s17-member team.

“I was super nervous the entire day,” senior and team operations officer Hannah Bell said. “During the award ceremony, we knew it was going to be close.”

 The team took first place by earning 434 points, edging out Oostburg High School by six points. Both teams used to be part of a co-op program until two years ago, and Bell said it’s a strong rivalry.     

During the first run, Ozaukee’s ROV sunk to the bottom of the pool for 15 minutes. The team had 30 minutes to open the robot and go through a series of tests to determine the malfunction before its final run. 

“We really didn’t know what the problem was but we did some troubleshooting and found that some of the wires were weak. We had to open our dry housing to cut the wires and solder them together,” Bell said. “We were thinking, ‘What if we don’t have enough time to finish the repairs and if we do, will they work?’”

“It was very dramatic,” Wagner added.  

The team’s official score for the pool mission was 180 out of 250 points, and the team earned the rest of its points from an engineering presentation, marketing display and technical documentation.

Ozaukee Robotics will compete in the MATE International ROV Competition from June 21 to 23 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. 

The team has about six weeks to redesign its robot, which involves restructuring its communication system and a camera feed that uses eight cameras. 

“We have our work cut out for us at internationals but we’ve got some time to figure things out,” Bell said.

The team will meet every day at Wagner’s workshop to prepare for the international competition. 

“They all give up their evenings to meet at my workshop. I currently have an 18-foot pool in there to test the ROV,” he said.

Students also have to prepare presentations about the ROV’s safety and engineering, and also write technical documentation, which can be about 27 pages.

They are currently seeking donations to fund the triip and will have a brat fry at the end of the month at Port Washington State Bank in Fredonia.

“We’re excited and we hope to do our best at internationals,” Bell said.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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