Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Perseus Project returns to college
FKCC students build underwater vehicles

For the second year in a row, Florida Keys Community College will host the culmination of the Perseus Project, a government-sponsored initiative that challenges college students to build underwater vehicles capable of performing specific missions.

Students from FKCC, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Georgia Tech, the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, and for the first time, North Carolina A T are participating in Perseus, which is sponsored by the Rapid Reaction Technology Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The four teams are in town this week, according to FKCC spokeswoman Amber Ernst-Leonard, "to explore if a party with relatively modest resourcing and in a relatively short period of time, could assemble an unmanned underwater vehicle, remotely operated vehicle or autonomous underwater vehicle capable of conducting a variety of missions."

To that end, the teams will be practicing all week at the college's dive lagoon, with the final comparative demonstrations taking place from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday. A waterfront dinner and awards ceremony will follow at 6 p.m.

"The Navy has brought all kinds of objects, which are strewn all around the lagoon, to support the project," Ernst-Leonard said. "The ROVs will be tasked with locating and investigating each of these objects using, in some cases, sonar and GPS equipment. It's a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education promotion."

Lana Sielski, department chair of FKCC's diving program, is pleased with the work her students have put into the program.

"I am really impressed by our students and look forward to seeing them showcase their device on Thursday," Sielski said. "Their ROV includes a sonar system and two Go Pro cameras to gather information and is powered by a unit that floats above it. The three students -- a computer science student, a diving student, and a marine engineering student -- have dedicated themselves to this activity all semester and will be compensated with college credit for their hard work."

For information about Thursday's presentation, call 305-296-9081.

tschmida@keysnews.com

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