SAN DIEGO — A career in STEM education could not only help protect the United States but take you all over the world. In this Innovate 8 report, I went to Lake Miramar to meet some of San Diego's most promising future scientists and engineers. When I first met Team Inspiration two years ago, they were taking on the brightest minds in America; now they are taking on the world.
Team Inspiration is an all-star collection of high school and college students invited to compete in the prestigious RobotX. "We are the first high school team in the world to take on this competition, so we have to show up and show off a little bit," said Colin Szeto. He is a sophomore at UCSD, but I first met him in 2020 when Team Inspiration sank the elite schools like Duke and Cal Tech in a RoboSub competition.
"It was a lot of hard work," said Colin. Team Inspiration has 25 members. Eight members are students currently attending Del Norte High, Westview High, Scripps Ranch High and Canyon Crest Academy. The 17 other members either attend college or support the team from a university program specializing in STEM.
Following their 2020 RoboSub victory, Team Inspiration is at it again; this time with an autonomous boat and drone. The team is heading to RobotX in Australia in November. "It is really stressful, we've never gone to an international competition with competition on another continent nevertheless in another hemisphere," said Colin.
Their boat will be required to navigate by itself, send messages and even fire racquet balls at a target. "I am looking to be an aerospace engineer," said Ashiria Goel. She is a senior at Scripps Ranch High who says science can save lives. "Often times when there is scouting to do in the sea it is dangerous for humans, so we have a lot of robo-subs that go under water and do tasks in conditions that are not great for humans," said Ashiria.
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Students can operate the boat manually or program it to drive itself. The US Navy wants to someday have a fleet of unmanned vessels. This is the type of technology the Navy is hoping to develop. The competition is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. "It's a lot of fun and I think all of us are in it to enjoy it," said Eesh Vij. For months, the Westview High senior has put in 12-hour days knowing their boat and drone will face off against the best engineering teams on the planet. "We are the only one from California. There are seven in the US and there are 22 total from the whole world," said Eesh. The days of a backyard swimming pools are long gone, next stop: International Waters. "Everything in this competition is bigger and because it is on water everything is more complex," said Colin.
Team Inspiration will compete in RobotX in Sydney, Australia from November 11-17. RobotX is a premier biennial international university-level multi-domain autonomous vehicles competition. To learn more about the RobotX competition click here.