Two teams of students from the Oñate High School Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) program recently earned top honors in the 2018 Greater Southwest SeaPerch Challenge. The challenge required two-person teams to produce an engineering notebook and design and build a submersible robot to navigate an obstacle course and perform technical challenges.

OHS SeaPerch Teams
Two student teams from the Oñate High School NJROTC program celebrate claiming top honors in the 2018 Greater Southwest SeaPerch Challenge. (from left to right) OHS Junior Katelin Ashby, OHS Senior Damon Moran, OHS Senior Antionette Villalpando and OHS Senior Izabell Homer.

“It’s great to see our students using science, technology, engineering and math to produce such complex real-world projects,” said Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing. “Congrats to all of the students on a job well done.”

Out of the 58 teams that participated in the competition, two OHS teams earned the competition’s top honors. OHS Senior Izabell Homer and OHS Senior Antoinette Villalpando’s team earned first place overall and OHS Senior Damon Moran and OHS Junior Katelin Ashby’s team earned second place overall.

Based on their respective performances in the regional competition, both teams are now qualified for the 2018 International SeaPerch Challenge which will take place June 1-3 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

In preparation for the competition, both teams used the East Mesa Bataan Memorial Pool, which is managed by the Las Cruces Parks and Recreation Department aquatics division, to test their submersible robots. To thank the city for letting the teams use the pool, the OHS NJROTC recently presented Recreation Programs Manager Jake Gutierrez with a recognition plaque.

Plaque Presentation
Students from the OHS NJROTC program present the City of Las Cruces Parks and Recreation department with a recognition plaque for supporting the OHS SeaPerch program. (from left to right) OHS Principal Jim Schapekahm, City of Las Cruces Recreation Programs Manager Jake Gutierrez, OHS Senior Naval Science Instructor Mike Buchanan, OHS Senior Izabell Homer, OHS Senior Antionette Villalpando and OHS Junior Katelin Ashby.

“They allowed the students to utilize the East Mesa pool every Thursday,” said Mike Buchanan, senior naval science instructor at Oñate High School. “This access was critical in allowing the students to design and test their remotely operated vehicles in preparation for the competition.”

According to the SeaPerch website, SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting. Since 2011, the SeaPerch program has been managed by Robonation, a robotics community created by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to support the educational initiatives of the AUVSI.

-LCPS Communications Coordinator Paul Dahlgren,, (575) 527-5808