News: Navy EOD Robot Technician Inspires Students on STEM
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Sept. 27, 2013) – A robot technician from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit (EODESU) 2’s robotics shop participated in the third annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Career Conference held at Corporate Landing Middle School, Sept. 27.
During the event Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Joseph Vanni, assigned to EODESU 2’s robotics shop, shared his knowledge of the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) and the Talon robotic systems. Students were also able to operate the robots in the classroom gaining first-hand experience in one aspect of an EOD technician’s job.
Navy EOD robotics proved to be a perfect fit for an event focused on science and technology and one Rachel McMillan, the STEM Career Conference coordinator, says is directly relatable to many of the students at Corporate Landing.
“I love they are here because we have a robotics team that competes in the spring,” said McMillan. “Last year we had one team, this year we have expanded it to two teams so we’ll have about 22 students participating in robotics this year.”
The STEM conference exposes students to careers related to science, technology engineering and math. Students spent the day visiting different stations to get a sampling of careers options they might want to pursue. Belinda Graeff, a 7th grade science teacher, echoed McMillan’s enthusiasm for Navy EOD’s robotics’ involvement.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Graeff. “It’s got the electronics, it’s got the programing and they can physically manipulate the robots to perform different tasks. This is definitely hands on science and the students can really relate to this.”
EODESU2’s robotics shop’s core team consists of Vanni and Navy Diver Seaman Derek Kassak who maintain and repair all the robotic systems for Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2 which encompasses all of the robotics for Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units 2, 6, 8 and 12 including Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2’s underwater robotics systems. There is no shortage of work for a team that must maintain over 3,000 robotics systems spanning the entire east coast and Spain.
The job was once predominantly filled by Electronics Technicians with Electrician’s Mates being added more recently. EOD technicians and Navy Divers like Kassak are also pulled in to help when the need arises.
Students attending the Corporate Landing’s STEM Career Conference represent a future enriched by science and technology spurred by teachers and industry experts who care about making an impact in these fields.
“In this day and age science and technology are extremely important,” said McMillan. “I see it as a 21st century skill and a way of getting students to think on a deeper level fostering the creative problem solving and critical thinking skills necessary for the future.”
This year’s conference includes the entire Corporate Landing Middle School student body and select teams from Landstown Middle School.
In addition to EODESU2 robot techs and other STEM experts, NASA astronaut Patrick Forrester shared his insights and was available for questions during a keynote speech held between events. Forrester’s intimate knowledge of robotics applications made him a great addition to the lineup.
EODESU2 provides logistical support for all East Coast EOD and diving salvage units including supply, ordnance, transportation, tactical communications support, field services, facility maintenance and programming, weapons inventory control and repair, boat and engine maintenance and dive locker and hazardous material handling.
U.S. Navy EOD is the world’s premier combat force for countering explosive hazards and conducting expeditionary diving and salvage.