Students Build ROV Submarine

Ben Fisher is a dreamer and a designer. For several years, he wanted to build a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) to explore Northwest Montana’s lakes and rivers. “I really wanted a reliable means to send a camera deep down into some of the lakes around Montana simply for the sake of exploring,” he said.

When Ben enrolled in FVCC’s Introduction to Mechatronics (ETEC 100) course, instructor Tim Price tasked him with creating an electro-mechanical robotics project. He floated his ROV submarine idea by Tim and classmate Jonathan Norell, both of whom encouraged him to go for it.

Ben and Jonathan teamed up as project partners, and by the end of the semester, they had built an ROV capable of collecting underwater video footage, which can be viewed here: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct5N8_6giG0&feature=youtu.be>

“I loved experiencing an accelerated version of the engineering process in this course,” Jonathan said. “Through the use of Solidworks and 3D printing, we were able to rapidly prototype and translate designs to physical objects. It was immensely satisfying to hold a physical part in my hand that mere hours earlier only existed in my mind’s eye.”

Both Ben and Jonathan are starting their engineering degrees at FVCC with plans to transfer to Montana State University to earn bachelor’s degrees. Ben’s goal is to become an aerospace engineer, and Jonathan is aiming to be an electrical engineer.

According to Ben, the ROV is a work in progress. “As things are, it runs well,” he said. “Eventually we’d like to develop this vehicle to be a very capable tool for whatever adventures we might put it through.”

Ben echoed those sentiments. “One of the most gratifying things is when I am given the chance to take the next step from having read, calculated, heard or learned something, to actually doing it,” he said. “This class emphasized this in every way, starting the transition from conceptual schooling to applied engineering.”