Outreach News

Team PropaGator is very active in providing Native American K-12 students opportunities to learn and become excited about S.T.E.M. through the synergy of mechanical design, electronics, and computer programming (robotics).

They currently have two sites which serve Native youth from Arizona (AZ), New Mexico (NM), and Oklahoma (OK). The first site is the Navajo Nation in AZ and NM. In 2014, one of the team members was able to visit 6 schools, perform over 30 workshops, and worked with over 1000 students from the Navajo Nation. Most recently, Team PropaGator helped found two FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics teams with the help of FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Teams 2486 and 4118. The first team is the “Arc Angels” from St. Michael Indian School in St. Michaels, AZ. The second team is, “Electro Mutton Nation” from Tsehootsooi Middle School in Ft. Defiance, AZ. In November 2014, Electro Mutton Nation competed in an FLL tournament in Winslow, AZ and won the Judges Award as well as the award for best Coaches/Mentors. Even after the competition, they still meet regularly to complete the tasks that there robot was unable to complete at the competition. This allows them to continue to learn through building and programming robots and be ready for next year’s competition. They have even started fundraising for next season by raising hundreds of dollars selling pickles after school.

At the 2014 AUVSI Foundation’s International RoboBoat Competition, the team presented their outreach with the Navajo Nation to the competition’s judges which helped inspire the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to donate five SeaPerch robot submarine kits to each team in order to aid in their outreach. This inspired the creation of a second site. One of the team members made contact with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) in OK and helped coordinate for their students to receive these kits to help aid in the CPN’s push for S.T.E.M. education. Team PropaGator then reached out to all of the other RoboBoat teams. Team PropaGator wanted the other teams to know that if they weren’t sure what to do with their kits, there was a good home waiting for them with the tribes in OK. Georgia Tech (GT) has become a partner in this program by donating some of their kits to the tribes of OK. The goal is once the students of the CPN become proficient in assembling and using their kits, they will invite neighboring tribes to their build area. The CPN will show the students from the other tribes how to assemble the kits from GT and will then present them as a gift to their guests. In this way the S.T.E.M. outreach is further extended and positive inter-tribal relationships are formed between the students. The team would like to thank NASA astronaut Terry Hart for Skyping in to both of these communities to share his experiences and answer the students’ questions on what it is like to travel to outer space.

Outreach Partners 2015

Harn Museum Night 2014 Boat Show

We were invited again to show off the boat at the Harn Museum this year.  Positioned at the entrance of the museum, everyone who came to the event got a chance to see the boat.  The team was asked questioned that ranged from “Is this a weapon?” to “What algorithm do you use to detect the buoys?”.  It was fun to talk with the public (~500 visitors) about our lab and the projects have built.  Hopefully we inspired some young engineers!
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More than meets the eye

We had a PropaGator fan give her interpretation of the boat as a superhero (or supervillain).   Should PropaGator actually be a transformer, in the transformed mode, the boat would look like the following picture. Notice the LIDAR mounted on the head with the two hubless thrusters on the shoulders.  Also, it’s hard to miss the gator-skin hull design.  And PropaGator’s secret weapon?  The yellow buoy that the boat “ate” during the 2014 RoboBoat competition!  Thanks to Sydn
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AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2014

This week five team members and Dr. Schwartz drove down to Orlando to participate in AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2014 conference.  This was my first time at the conference and I was blown away with the size of the event.  Never before had I seen so many robots in one (giant) room.  The conference was like Comic-Con for engineers. During the three days in Orlando, we established a few contacts with distributors and were able to get some good advice on how to construct our new propulsion system
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Team 4118 Roaring Riptide Robotics (FIRST)

We have several team members who are advisers for a local high school FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics team.  Team 4118 (P. K. Yonge High School), the Roaring Riptides, competed for their 3rd year today.  Emphasis was placed on getting the robot up and running as quickly as possible.  A quicker built platform meant more time for testing and driver training.  Their hard work paid off with P. K. Yonge coming in at 11th place out of 62 teams.    
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Junior Science Engineering and Humanities Symposium

Today, over 70 high-school students from all over Florida came to visit the University.  The students were all aspiring scientists and engineers.  They were visiting UF to give presentations on science experiments they had conducted while in school.  We were invited to show off some of the projects we were working on in the lab.  We brought the sub, a hex-copter and a ground vehicle.  We did not bring the boat because we are in the process of transitioning to the new hull.  The students were ver
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January 2014 Recruiting Meeting

Over 100 UF students from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, marketing, and even business school came to our 2014 recruiting meeting.  They showed interest in all four of our projects: PropaGator, SubjuGator, CongreGators, and TowBot.  We’re excited to see so many students interested in what we do in the lab and look forward to working with them.
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Harn Museum Night 2013 Boat Show

Last night we brought the boat to the Harn Museum here at UF.  The boat was situated near the entrance so thousands of people got to see what we’ve created in the lab.  The Nerf gun go the attention of the kids.  Many people were impressed with Dan’s talking boat module.  It really gave PropaGator some personality.  The sub also came to the event and set up right next to us.  I feel like our two projects were the most popular that night.
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UF President visits MIL

Today the President of UF visited the Machine Intelligence Lab (MIL).  Dr. Schwartz gave the president a tour of our lab and introduced team members from both SubjuGator, PropaGator, and Congregators.  This was the first time the president of UF has visited the lab.
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Beat Tennessee!

Today, PropaGator and SubjuGator participated in the University of Florida Gator Engineering tailgate prior to the Florida Tennessee football game.  Our team was on station displaying our boat to the public.  We had the privilege of explaining how our vehicles worked to faculty, alumni, and students.  While it was very hot outside, we still had a good time.  Go Gators!
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