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After a rather slow start my miniROV kits have had their first shakedown run at the hands of the next generation of budding engineers! I used the winnings from the Robotics zone of I’m an Engineer 2016 to buy components for building underwater robots or Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). The kits were based on an existing design from Robert Gordon’s University (RGU) which was adapted to make them reusable, so that the money went further and could be used with more pupils.
Once all the individual components were bought it was time to dust off the old soldering iron and make up the remote controller circuit board. This was a shock to the system for a mechanical engineer, so I enlisted the help of my electrically inclined dad! Between us we managed to get everything assembled in time for a visit to my old primary school, Ashley Road in Aberdeen, who were running an engineering week at the start of November.
I spent a day in school, running a miniROV workshop for four P6 and P7 classes. We discussed why we used robots in various scenarios before the pupils split into teams to build their own ROVs. K’NEX was used for the frame then the motors were installed and wired in to the remote controller. Two film canister buoyancy tanks were added to the top of the ROV before it was ready for a trial run in the tank. Everyone got a shot at being an ROV pilot and we discussed the forces acting on the ROV such as weight, buoyancy, thrust and drag.
A great time was had by all, including the pupils, teachers and myself. It was fantastic to see the pupils get so involved in the task, and great to see how their minds work with some fantastic questions. I’m already looking in to other opportunities to use the kits with other groups through the STEM ambassador network, and a colleague has asked if he could borrow them to use at his children’s school so the kits will keep on giving!
A big thank you to Ashley Road for having me back and my company i-Tech Services for releasing me for the day. Thanks must also go to Graeme Dunbar at RGU for the use of his kit design, my dad for lending a steady hand soldering and I’m an Engineer for making it all possible!
The miniROV kits in numbers:
- 15 kits produced (with spares)
- 68 manhours designing and building the kits (ish)
- 720 joints soldered
- 2 circuits board knackered by dodgy soldering
- 1 day in at school (so far)
- 106 pupils now trainee ROV engineers