ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., July 20, 2011 -- The U.S. Army Research Laboratory hosted a SeaPerch robotics challenge at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., June 11, 2011. The event was made possible through a grant from the National Defense Education Program, which awarded 10 SeaPerch kits to ARL for use with their robotics programs.

SeaPerch is an underwater robotics program that trains students to build a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, created by the Office of Naval Research. The students learned about naval architecture, electrical engineering, and team work during the fabrication process.

In Harford County, eight teams built Sea Perch robots between April and June to compete in the challenge. The innovative underwater robotics program launches from an in-school or out-of-school setting.

Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme, as well as tool safety and technical procedures.

Building a SeaPerch ROV teaches basic skills in ship and submarine design and encourages students to explore naval architecture and marine and ocean engineering concepts. Students are exposed to a variety of careers that are possible in naval architecture and naval, ocean, and marine engineering.

The challenge consisted of three parts: A "Cap the Well" Challenge, which includes an obstacle course, and a team interview. In this challenge, teams competed to stop the flow of "oil" (actually plastic balls) from an underwater well.

In the obstacle course, teams had to drive robots through three hoops in the swimming pool, then turn around and return to the edge of the pool. For the team interview, students discussed what they learned through the program with the program judges. The students were judged in all three events.

The team with the fastest time to cap the well was Team Pizza, from the Boys and Girls Club of Edgewood. The Team with the fastest time in the obstacle course was Team JAMA from Techbrick Robotics. But combined scores in all categories placed, Havre de Grace High School Tech Warriors in first place. Second Place was awarded to Techbrick Robotics Tactical Ducks, and third place was awarded to Team Pizza, from the Boys and Girls Club of Edgewood.

ARL's Christopher Hoppel and Sandra Young hosted the event. Judges included Richard Becker, Jon Borenstein, Mary Ann Fields, and Lisa Marvel from ARL, Ann Borenstein, who retired from ARL, Todd Morris, with Research, Development and Engineering Command, Dan Danner, with Raytheon, and Susan Beatty, with Science Applications International Corporation. Maria Hoppel and Michael Tellup were in charge of underwater maintenance during the challenge.

Students said they had a great time building the robot and competing in the event. A picnic was held after the event for students and guests at the Shore Pool picnic area.