Diamond White, right, along with John Gray High School Aqua Lasers: Final Splash teammate Alvan Boxwell.

My SeaPerch journey through the years

By Diamond White

My experiences with SeaPerch, the underwater robotics programme, began in Year 7 and became a big part of my life and high school experience.

I was eager to be a part of the SeaPerch team after seeing the performance of the previous John Gray High School team during my last year of primary school.

Upon entering high school in 2017, I got together with a group of my friends and began to prepare for the local SeaPerch competition. Our design and technology teacher taught us the design process and we began to think of design ideas for our remotely operated vehicle, or ROV as it's usually called.

It was daunting to design the ROV without any previous knowledge on the subject, so we decided to build the stock example ROV as the instructions for that model were included in the SeaPerch package each team received. We were very happy with ourselves when we achieved this, but after our initial testing, we realised that it couldn’t be used for the competition as it was way too slow and cumbersome.

So, with our newfound experience, we got to work brainstorming, making and testing new designs. Several iterations were made, each with their respective strengths and weaknesses, but none were fit for the purposes of competition. With each new design, we learned and improved and eventually, we had a much better ROV. It was fast and robust, and its foldable arm had a high mechanical leverage for lifting the required objects in the competition.

After many hours of practice with our ROV, we were ready for the competition and on the day, we gave it our best.

Our hard work paid off — we won! I even set the record for the fastest obstacle course completion. As a result, we headed for Georgia Tech University in Atlanta to compete in the International SeaPerch Challenge.

Apart from competing, we also had fun visiting The World of Coca-Cola Museum and the CNN Center. It was enlightening to discuss with other teams the different ways we each chose to accomplish the tasks outlined for the competition. The atmosphere was very positive and I ended up having a great experience.

As the years progressed my team — which comprised mostly the same members — ended up winning the local competition three more times in the years 2018, 2019 and 2021. We went on two more trips to participate in the international competition — one at Dartmouth College in 2018 and one at the University of Maryland in 2019.

Through high school, I learned a lot about building an ROV, teamwork and problem solving, in addition to persevering through challenges that came our way. All of these things have helped make SeaPerch an unforgettable experience for me.

Diamond White is a 2019 Dart High School Scholar. This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of the Camana Bay Times.