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UAV Races Draw Future Leaders in Engineering

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS060815-11
Release Date: 8/15/2006 4:31:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Scorza, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

POINT LOMA, Calif. (NNS) -- The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) held their ninth annual International Autonomous Vehicle Competition Aug. 3-6 at the Point Loma Space and Naval Warfare Systems (SPAWAR) Center in San Diego.

This competition exists to challenge young engineers to design and build autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV). It is also used to encourage contestants to consider a career in developing AUV technologies for the Navy.

“These young students will enter the work force as trained individuals with innovative ideas to lead us into the next generation of AUV technology,” said Steve Kopenick, deputy of program development for the ocean systems division of SPAWAR.

“We now see universities using the competition as a recruiting event,” said ONR Program Manager Tom Curtain.

SPAWAR has recruited several individuals from prior AUVSI competitions, including James Buescher, now a project engineer for the Ocean Systems Division.

Buescher said the competitions allowed him to work in a realistic, hands-on environment.

“My main interest in SPAWAR was the wide range of exposure to different kinds of projects," Buescher said.

The competition has grown significantly since it first began. The first competition involved four teams and has since then grown to involve 21 teams from as far away as Japan and India.

Daryl Davidson, AUVSI executive director, said he would like to start a year-round program to help mentor the contestants on a more personal level between competitions.

ONR and AUVSI officials agree that they would like to see the competition grow to a national or global event in the future and that this event is a great way to encourage our nation’s future technologists and provide them with valuable experience as they prepare for their careers.

Davidson added that because of their safety, reliability, and capability, the unmanned systems will play a big role in the Navy’s future, and events like these are building that foundation.



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