Pictured from left are Raya Sessoms (X31), Jonathan Walker (X36), Daniel Meyer (X31), Mingyi Cisar (X31), Giovanni Parrish (X18), Kade Hammett (X31) and Drew Porter (X18).

Robotics Team Shines at Competition

Published August 9, 2022

The Apprentice School Robotics Team earned a second-place finish at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Model Design Competition, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in June.

The competition – the team’s first in three years thanks to cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – brought together students from two- and four-year colleges. The goal was to give student teams an opportunity to use the engineering design process to build an autonomous vehicle to complete a specified task or to complete a specified track.

“We were able to overcome some inexperience and understood what we had to do in order to move up and finish in second place,” said Lonnie Elrod, an Apprentice School instructor who has worked with the team for about a year. “Because most of the students who participate are first- or second-year students, we had nobody left over from the previous teams who had competed.”

This year’s competition had a fishing theme – an ode to Minnesota, which is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Teams had to design, build and program a robot to pick up wooden fish, put them into a basket and then deliver them into a holding tank. The robot had to be able to differentiate color, because only certain colors were supposed to be picked up.

During the competition, the team experienced challenges but was able to make quick adjustments. “Even to the last second, we made modifications to adapt to the situations being presented,” said Daniel Meyer, an X31 apprentice. “Working in the yard has taught us to be adaptable, and that advanced our position in the competition.”

To build the robot, students put in long hours after work and broke up into smaller teams focused on elements such as 3D modeling, prototyping, construction, programming and creating a presentation. Elrod said there were important lessons for the apprentices that can carry over into their shipbuilding careers.

“I think it gave them a sense of what we’re trying to do here at the company with all of the different departments working together to deliver aircraft carriers and submarines,” he said. “It gives them the inspiration to see what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Apprentices who are interested in learning more about technologies being used at NNS, programing or software design are encouraged to join the robotics team. For more information, contact Rick Burgos at 757-897-0131 or Lonnie Elrod at 757-274-4464.