The dockside of Willow Street Pump Station on White Oak Bayou provided a world-class learning environment from which to launch the advanced-marine technologies available through Seatronics, specifically the Predator remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Close proximity of University of Houston-Downtown with the dockside gave faculty, staff, and students unprecedented access to gain hands-on experience with STEM-relevant advanced-marine technologies. The demonstration was attended by faculty from University of Houston, University of Houston Clear Lake and the University of Houston-Downtown, all of whom expressed an interest in doing further bayou-related marine research. This event has generated a groundswell of interest in marine science by providing opportunities for engagement in high-impact research from the shore and has raised awareness of STEM capabilities at the University of Houston-Downtown.
A Seatronics Predator ROV was used to investigate and explore regions of the bayou floor. In the low-visibility bayou waters the ROV-mounted Blueview sonar system delivered long-range images, and coupled with the relatively shorter range of the optical video imaging system we gained many novel insights into what lies beneath the bayou waters. User-friendly software means that this technology is accessible to a wide range of students, including undergraduates, who benefit from gaining exposure to commercial tools and industry prior to graduation.
Students identified several sites of interest that included large boulders, a shopping cart with a shoe attached to it, some underwater cables, and a fish. As part of the event three presentations were given. Euan Mackay from Seatronics discussed the types of technology available and their application, with particular focus on the Predator ROV system set up on the dockside. Louis Aulbach from Texas Historical Society and Houston Archaeological Society then discussed the history of Houston, the bayous and the University of Houston-Downtown buildings. Then, Alex Barnard (Hydrate Energy International, and University of Houston-Downtown) gave an overview of how advances in marine technology are improving our understanding of marine geology. Sunny weather throughout the event and the Houston skyline backdrop provided a great natural showcase for the technology and talent on display.
To view a video detailing the day's activities - Click here