WALKER, LA (WAFB) - Students have gone far with learning to program and participating in high school robotics competitions. However, a handful of them are stepping beyond that and meeting a new challenge.
It may look like an ordinary computer class, but some Walker High students are building a remotely-operated, underwater robot.
"We had some mishaps with buoyancy and whatnot, but we improvised," said Chance Konczol.
They are not just learning about programming and robotics. They are tackling real-world problems.
"They get experience with the same kind of applications and tasks that these robots will have to do in the real world, in oil and gas and telecommunications," said Eric Turgeau.
During the BP oil spill, engineers used remotely operated vehicles to monitor the spill and eventually plug the leak.
"Our mission this year was actually how to take a flange and bolts and cap off an oil well," Turgeau said.
It's part of an ROV competition at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Students sat behind curtains and had swim their robots across a pool and cap the well guided only by what they could see on a small video screen.
More important than the contest is what these kids learn about problem-solving and teamwork.
"You cannot rush things. You cannot get frustrated. You have to work together as a team to get stuff done," Konczol.
"It's that hands-on critical thinking. To be able to look at a problem, and build something that meets that problem," Turgeau said.