By this time, we were well on our way to eating ourselves through Texas. There were a number of restaurants near the hotel, or a short drive away, and we decided we’d get stuff to eat that we wouldn’t normally get at home. Besides smoky Texas BBQ, we had excellent Japanese Ramen (the real stuff), wonderful Thai, and discovered an eclectic little coffee shop that we fell in love with. We were having a great time! Jamie was working, attending meetings, and stressing. I don’t blame him! cb of course, was the host with the most.
The competition for the ROVs was in full swing. We wouldn’t see Jamie until much later in the evening, so Jim, cb, and I took a tour through Downtown Houston to the Museum of Natural Science. We went into a butterfly enclosure, scoped out the fabulous Gem Vault, and, since I was reading “Antony and Cleopatra”, marveled at the Egyptian exhibit.
This is a sculpture made from gemstone that struck me. If I remember correctly, the lower jaw is a separate piece and the entire sculpture weighs about 6.5 pounds:
The next day, we were finally allowed in to view the competition. This was held at the Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab. This pool, 40 feet deep, has a mock up of the space station in it. Astronauts use this Lab to practice doing tasks while weightless. It was an incredible honor to be there. We had to have ID and badges checked (we sent in for our security clearances a month prior), and had to be inspected by K9 units, who sniffed all of our belongings, and anything we were bringing in to the NBL. Security was tight!
Here is a look inside:
(It’s OK, they said we could take pictures)
(We were seated down at the right, viewing the competition on a screen via underwater cameras.)
(The mockup of the Space Station is visible.)
The team had a number of tasks that the ROV had to complete. They were judged on presentation, tasks accomplished, and safety. One of the tasks was to retrieve an oil sample. Our team (Crusader Robotics) snagged the oil (it was for the highest amount of points) but lost it on the way to the surface. What a blow! Fortunately, we were able to compete the next day as well, and the team’s scores were added together.
Competition done for the day, cb gifted Jamie with a micro drone:
And all the accessories, to boot!
The next day was the final day of competition (we didn’t drop the oil) and the awards banquet. Anxiously, we waited for the awards to be given. Unfortunately, our team did not win. However, none of the guys lost sight of the big picture: almost 700 teams tried out, of which, 69 were chosen to compete. We were one of the lucky ones, competing against other countries such as China, India, Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia. And our first year in competition, too! It was a great honor to compete. When the scores were compiled, Crusader Robotics had made the top third. Congratulations, team!
(The Edmund Mark 2.5, Crusader Robotics’ ROV, painted in the school’s colors)
Tomorrow: Leaving Texas
Your friend, Liz