Thursday, June 16, 2005

Houston Day 1 National ROV competition

Early this morning the Carl Hayden High School Robotics team left Phoenix for the 2005 MATE ROV (Remotely Operated underwater Vehicle) competition in Houston, Texas. This year it is being held at the water pool in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at the Houston Space Center.

We have made many new friends because of the April Wired article about last year’s contest. One of the people we met via email, is Dayna Steele, a radio personality here in Texas. She and her husband, Charlie the Wonder Husband, invited all the team to her house for dinner and to meet a few of her friends: Jose Hernandez, and many of his fellow astronauts. We chatted with astronaut Linda Godwin and others over pizza at the pool overlooking Clear Lake. Tales of looking DOWN to see meteorites, 16 sunrises and sunsets per day, how to abort a liftoff, and when we might send a person to the moon and Mars were buzzing thought the party.

How many movies have the scene where the astronauts and their families are socializing and talking about their training and the missions they will be on. WE WERE THERE!! Absolutely amazing!

Karen Suhm, our physicist friend and her husband Jerry are here with us. They are so positive to be around. Karen is going to reapply for the astronaut program.

Our friend and mentor from Intel, Marcos Garcia-Acosta, is here with us also. He had a great time discussing the Dream Act with Dayna’s husband, Charlie, who is a teat pilot and a flight trainer for the new astronauts.

Right now it is 9 pm and teachers Fredi Lajvardi, Sam Alexander and Ruth Reynoso are critiquing the kids technical presentation. The team has to present it for real tomorrow at 3:15 in the afternoon.

Tomorrow morning is also the day we set up our ROV and practice. Also The Dayna Steele show will be live from the pool.

Our competition written documents were turned in three weeks ago. Saturday morning the kids have to operate their ROV and perform the tasks in 40 foot deep water.

This year the six students are Cindy Castenada, Annalisa Regalado, Pablo Santillan, Luis Gueterrez, and retuning members Cristian Arsega and Lorenzo Santillan. Oscar Vasquez and Luis Aranda are here, but only as spectators.

Oscar will be gong to ASU this fall with a full scholarship. Luis will be going to the local community college in the fall. Cristian will have a full scholarship to ASU when he graduates next year and Lorenzo will be taken care of either at the community college or ASU. It’s been a fantastic year for the four veterans and it’s been a real joy watching them blossom.

Anyway, our ROV, “Smokey”, is sitting in a crate in the NASA warehouse waiting for us to pick him up after the opening ceremonies.

Fredi has posted pictures on our web site at

I’ll try to post an update tomorrow evening. If tomorrow is anywhere near as exciting as tonight, this may be the best field trip of all time!!


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