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October 2017

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Robotics Team Innovates in HCC Design Lab

The Alief Early College High School STEM Robotics Team, made up of 12 boys and girls, prepared for the annual Alief Independent School District (AISD) Underwater Robotics Competition this past spring. Team members planned to build an "outside-the-box" or unique remotely operated vehicle (ROV), utilizing parts made by a 3-D printer. Unfortunately, their 3-D printer was malfunctioning. However, with a new design lab within walking distance, the team wasted no time in discovering all of the technology accessible next door at Houston Community College (HCC).

"HCC students and the surrounding community have access to a creative space where they can tinker and experiment with some of the most forward-thinking technologies," said Jordan Carswell, HCC Acting Director of Educational Technology. Carswell developed the Design Lab, better known as the DLab. The lab, a glass room with four HP Sprouts, four 3-D printers, two vinyl cutters and a mini milling machine at the front of HCC's Alief Hayes campus, offers innovation and experiential learning.

"What is so nice is that they can use the lab and can learn on their own," said Dr. Noemi Dimaliwat, professor, mentor, lead coach and STEM sponsor for the AECHS Robotics team.

This year was the team's second time to participate in the Houston Regional Seaperch Underwater Robotics Scrimmage. Out of 110 schools, the team placed first. This advanced them to the 2017 National SeaPerch Challenge Regional Competition at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA.

Many of the team members are top in their class, including Bao Kang Ngo, a recent class salutatorian and HCC graduate with an Associate Degree in science and highest honors. Ngo said, "The project taught me how to apply STEM concepts in the real world and how I can be innovative and creative."

At the DLab, the team was also able to design team shirts using design software, vinyl printer and cutting machines. "The robotics team designed their logo and I assisted so we could print it onto the competition shirts," said Bianca Bermudez, HCC Design Lab Coordinator who helped the team navigate through the lab.

Although the robotics team did not place in the national competition, the students are already planning next year's ROV. "We would like to incorporate an underwater camera," said team member Vinh Tan.

Whatever happens next, the team has already learned some new skills that will help the students going forward. Looking back on the experience, team member Christina Nguyen said, "The competition helped us work together and solve problems, and was even a bonding experience."

For more information contact:

Houston Community College

3100 Main Street

Houston, TX 77002


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