Former student brings ROV to high school

MORGAN CITY, La. — Morgan City High School 2009 graduate Peter Tran and a team of mechanical engineering seniors from Louisiana State University brought a mobile mini-ROV to demonstrate for students at Tran’s alma mater.

Tran and team members Taylor Graham of Walker, Benjamin Ewing of Baton Rouge, Michael Mannino of Houston and Chase Corte of Houma built the miniature remotely-operated vehicle during a year-long capstone course.

The Subsea Exhibit Able to Integrate Grade-level Expectations with ROVs, or SEATIGER, was funded by Subsea Tieback Foundation, “a non-profit organization trying to spread the word on subsea engineering. The way they do this is by really hitting the main points in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to grade-level students to foster interest in engineering,” Tran said.

The student team was required to plan and engineer their idea in the fall semester and manufacture and deliver their product in the spring. The result was brought to the Morgan City High School campus Thursday for students to participate in a hands-on demonstration.

The team received a $15,000 grant from Subsea Tieback Foundation to create the SEATIGER which will be used by the foundation as an educational tool at various high schools, trade shows or fairs. The demonstrations are designed to raise student interest in engineering.

“We’re actually the second generation. The first generation built the mobile environment and an ROV. This year’s focus has been to improve the ROV as well as to create several side exhibits to demonstrate classroom concepts,” Tran said.

The group that created SEATIGER I mentored Tran’s team.

The environment the first team created — and SEATIGER II utilizes — simulates the installation of hot stabs, an underwater electrical connection, Tran said.

Subsea Tieback Foundation’s “mission statement is really what drives us, and it’s really what opened my doors to pursuing a career in subsea,” Tran said.

The foundation’s mission statement is “The Subsea Tieback Foundation’s mission is to inform, educate and introduce careers in the oil and gas industry specific to offshore and subsea disciplines.”

Companies like Oceaneering, Chevron and Schlumberger have been the beneficiaries as these team members all landed jobs within their ranks. Tran will be working with Chevron’s subsea division in Houston after he graduates from LSU in about two weeks.

The foundation’s website mentions the program: “The most valuable aspect of this project is not necessarily the fact that these five students will have spent their last semester in college working with subsea engineers and other industry professionals to define, engineer and build their project, but the deliverable itself. They will provide the STF with a series of hands-on science class demonstrations of several of the engineering principles that we use every day in our business (i.e., buoyancy, pressure, leverage, etc.). The deliverable also will include a trailer- mounted tank and mini-ROV that, in addition to tying the classroom lessons together, will provide an opportunity for the SEATIGER students to have a bit of fun, and for committee members to again illustrate how these principals are used in our business, and how ‘cool’ our business really is.”

For more information on the foundation, visit

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