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NJROTC supports STEM education

The cadets in the JROTC program at Picayune Memorial High School recently received their first SeaPerch kit. They are learning how to build underwater robots and will compete once the final product is tested and evaluated. The students hard at work from left are Michael Drennan, Jeremy Thorman, Nolan Ferreira, Thailus Mitchell and Matthew Burnett.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

The cadets in the JROTC program at Picayune Memorial High School recently received their first SeaPerch kit. They are learning how to build underwater robots and will compete once the final product is tested and evaluated. The students hard at work from left are Michael Drennan, Jeremy Thorman, Nolan Ferreira, Thailus Mitchell and Matthew Burnett.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


Students in the Picayune Memorial High School JROTC program are learning how to build underwater robots.
Lt. Commander Steve Hardin is the Senior Naval Science Instructor for the school’s JROTC program and applied for the SeaPerch grant.
According to its website, SeaPerch is an underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the necessary resources to build an underwater remotely operated vehicle. The students are supplied with a kit containing parts and a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme.
“Chief Mark Thorman and I discussed the number of technically savvy young men we have in the JROTC program and thought this program would be a good avenue for the students to use their skills,” Hardin said. “This program is designed to spark interest in engineering and technical careers.”
According to the SeaPerch website, the United States has fallen from third to 17th place in regards to the amount of people that graduate from college with engineering degrees.
“The cadets are using their brains and learning how to build a motor and the required electronics to operate an underwater robot,” Hardin said. “Once the final product is tested and evaluated the group will compete with about 50 schools in Hattiesburg at the University of Southern Mississippi.”
Senior Thailus Mitchell is good with tools and commanding officer of the JROTC unit.
“This is my first SeaPerch experience, but not my first time with robotics,” Mitchell said. “I have had safety training with tools and I make sure the cadets know the safety procedures and don’t hurt themselves.”
The SeaPerch website states that students will learn many concepts including ship and submarine design, soldering, ergonomics, waterproofing, depth measurement, basic physics of motion and much more.
Mitchell said his favorite part of the activity is learning how the different robotics can improve daily life. He plans to study engineering, robotics and career technology in college and hopes to create robotic limbs to help people with disabilities.
Junior Michael Drennan has been participating in SeaPerch projects for the past four years.
“Building an underwater robot is interesting and it’s fun to build and compete,” Drennan said. “I’ve learned how to work with a team and that where some have weaknesses in areas others will have strengths.”
Matthew Burnett is a sophomore and said this is his first venture into robotics.
“It’s a lot of fun and allows me to be creative,” Burnett said. “I’ve learned a lot about motors and controls and how it all works.”
Jeremy Thorman said his father works with computers and they will team up to build their own robot.
“I am learning the basics now so I can work on my robot,” Thorman said.
Hardin said the cadets jumped right in and have worked real hard on this project.
“This generation is more technology savvy than mine was,” Hardin said. “They are better equipped to do this type of job than most. I can’t wait to see them compete and win.”
Learn more about the program at www.seaperch.org.