Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Cruel Social Experiment

that led to a great Swimmy Thang!

You have embarked on an adventure that is going to be one of the most intense experiences of your lives. It is not for the faint of heart! Underwater Robotics is a multi-disciplinary effort that will demand you develop an understanding of materials, electronics, oceanography, sub sea history, seamanship, hydrodynamics, physics, chemistry, and probably a few things I've left out. In addition, you will have to master some sophisticated social skills so you will be able to work as members of a team without ending up at each others throats. That is the bad news. The good news is that you will have a part in building something very special, and that is an accomplishment you will carry with you for the rest of your life!
The title for this diary came from one of my first experiences in bot building. I was standing in the shop, nothing had gone right for the past week, the team seemed to be falling apart and one of my team mates turned to me and said,
"This is a cruel social experiment! They have taken a bunch of people from wildly different backgrounds, stuffed us all into a pressure cooker, and turned the heat up full blast. Then they asked us to do the impossible with too little knowledge, too little money, and too little time!"
The bot was Bot Matrix. She won the Discovery Channel Underwater Battlebots Competition! We pulled it together, worked non-stop until the last event, and against all odds, we won! I am still in awe of what we pulled off as a team. Now not every team will win every time, but you will grow, you will learn, and the friendships you make will last a lifetime. Keep me posted on how you all are coming along!
Future diaries will cover such things as how to build a simple switch box, things to think about when choosing frame materials, Steve's elegant process for making engineering choices, Bots in the news, as well as articles by researchers and other people who are working with underwater robots! I invite you all to comment and offer ideas on how to improve this site. Welcome!


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