Members of the underwater robotics Team Dasyatis, from Bassett High School and Carlisle School, will be competing in the international championships next month. They are (from left, front row) Andrew Parikh (Carlisle), Will Dehart (Bassett), and Anika Banerjee (Carlisle) and (back row) Coach Christina Richardson (Carlisle), Coach Keith Newcomb (Patrick Henry Community College), Coach David Dillard (PHCC), Pedro Reyes (Bassett), Gabe Richardson (Carlisle) and Casey Richardson (Carlisle).

The robotics team comprised of students from public and private schools in Henry County is headed for international competition – although its members won’t have to board a jet to get there.

You likely have read about six students from Bassett High School and Carlisle School who have been sinking the competition in Underwater Robotics. Yes, think remote-controlled submersibles and how to make them useful.

Now they’ve qualified for the MATE International ROV competition, which will be held June 20-22 at the Kingsport Aquatic Center. That’s in Kingsport, Tenn., which is just across the Blue Ridge Mountains

Team members are Anika Banerjee (Carlisle),  Will Dehart (Bassett), Andrew Parikh (Carlisle), Pedro Reyes (Bassett), Gabe Richardson (Carlisle) and Casey Richardson (Carlisle).

They call their team Dasyatis, which comes from a genus of stingray.

Coached by David Dillard and Keith Newcomb of Patrick Henry Community College and Christy Richardson of Carlisle, these six worked together during spring semester to design, build and train on maneuvering a marine ROV.

First, a couple of key translations: MATE stands for Marine Advanced Technological Education, and ROV is Remotely Operated Vehicle.

The MATE competition consists of K-12, community college and university students from all over the world. Their designs and assignments come from actual scenarios.

The completion, a release said, requires students “to think of themselves as ‘entrepreneurs’ and transform their teams into companies that manufacture, market and to sell ‘products.’”

Not only do they have to build ROVs, but the students have to prepare reports and explanations for presentations about how these devices work.

At the MATE Appalachian Highlands Regional ROV Competition in April, Dasyatis won the Engineering Award for best product presentation and placed third overall in the product demonstration challenges.

That earned the team consideration as a Wild Card entry as one of 70 teams scheduled to compete in Kingsport. Some of them will be from China, Russia, India and Egypt.

Because of this competition’s business-oriented structure, the team named Banerjee as its CEO and CFO.

“I am immensely appreciative that our team, Dasyatis, has received the opportunity to compete internationally our first year of competition,” Banerjee said in a release about the competition. “Regionals were nerve-wracking, and our collaboration under pressure earned us third place, as well as an engineering award.

“We now know what to expect, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team and its accomplishments.”

Team Dasyatis developed its models by testing and training at the Martinsville-Henry County YMCA.

“The YMCA has really enjoyed partnering with Carlisle, Bassett and PHCC to allow the students to test their robots in the pool,” YMCA Aquatics Director Pam Foley said in release. “Not only has it helped them to excel in their competitions, but we have found it very interesting to watch as well!”

It has sponsors in The Eastman Foundation and MHC After 3, but it’s also collecting donations to pay the travel expenses through

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