MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) St. Louis assisted students, judges and coaches during the USS St. Louis (LCS 19) SeaPerch Competition at Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights, Missouri, April 6, 2019.
SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program and one of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, which allows students to build and operate remote-controlled submersibles through various underwater obstacle courses.
Throughout the project, students learned engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork, and technical applications.
“I could tell that the students were taking this very seriously,” said Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 1st Class Jular Bigornia, a recruiter assigned to NRD St. Louis. “One student was responsible for driving the submersible, another for handling the tether cord connected to the remote control, and the others gathered around the edge of the pool shouting out directions.”
Jon Fitzgerald, assistant principal at Pattonville High School, coordinated the majority of the event and was extremely grateful for NRD St. Louis’ Sailors coming out to help.
“The U.S. Navy’s organizational efforts is what made the scale of this event possible,” said Fitzgerald. “So I extend to them a huge ‘thank you’, especially when they gave up their Saturday in order to support SeaPerch and the competitors.”
While the competitors stayed dry pool-side, NRD St. Louis recruiters were in the water, acting as judges and assisting the students with their submersibles in the water.
“Sometimes when the robots were going through the course, unforeseeable accidents would occur,” said Bigornia. “One of the propellers would fall off, so I’d have to dive underwater to retrieve it. Or the cord connecting the robot to the remote control would get tangled on the obstacles so I’d have to unravel it for the students. Basically if they needed help, I didn’t hesitate to assist.”
More than 70 teams in the St. Louis area registered to participate in this year’s competition, which involved different kinds of obstacle courses and deep water transfer challenges. After the day-long competition, three high school teams, three middle school teams and three elementary teams were selected to move on to the National Competition in Maryland next month.
Lee Metcalf, a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral and member of the St. Louis Navy League, also coordinated alongside Fitzgerald and others. During the event, he noticed how well the NRD St. Louis Sailors were interacting with everyone there.
“SeaPerch is such a worthwhile experience,” said Metcalf. “The energy and interest the recruiters invested in the event changed the lives of thousands of students, parents and spectators. The range of support was nothing short of outstanding.”
The SeaPerch challenge enables educators to include discussion of potential careers in technical and engineering fields, as well as related fields of study, and also offers a template for an end-of design challenge. The program can be used to inform and educate students through a hands-on activity in the classroom, with the objective of generating interest and enthusiasm for continued science, technology and engineering studies. The long-term goal is to create the next generation of STEM professionals.
NRD St. Louis' area of responsibility covers more than 200,000 square miles, encompassing Missouri, Kansas, central and southern Illinois, and a portion of Kentucky. More than 200 officers, enlisted personnel and civilian staff operate 30 recruiting stations, two Navy Officer Recruiting Stations and the headquarters in St. Louis. Additionally, two Military Entrance Processing Stations; one at the headquarters in St. Louis and one in Kansas City, Mo., handle applicants' processing, classification, and physical examinations.
Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 18 Navy Recruiting Districts and eight Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,300 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
For more news from Navy Recruiting District St. Louis, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrdsl/.