HEHS underwater engineering team takes third at International ROV Competition


(Left to right) Melanie Rodriguez-Huerta, Vanessa Huerta, Wayne Oras, Armando Huerta, Justin Du

Maddy Bell, Staff Writer

The Hoffman Estates High School underwater engineering team has once again made it to the
international ROV Competition. This year, they remarkably won third place overall and second in
their level.

“Last year we were in fifth or sixth to last place,” said Wayne Oras, the engineering team coach.
“This year we’re in third.”

The competition involves, “creating robots used in industry, but on a simpler scale,” explained
Vanessa Huerta, a dedicated member of the engineering team who just graduated from HEHS.
Essentially, at this competition, young engineers develop robots and machines which would be
used to benefit the marine environment.

To show the robot’s ability, the contestants demonstrated it in a six foot deep pool. This year, the
competition was outdoors in Long Beach, California. The heat added some difficulty. However,
the HEHS team managed to excel in their ultimate performance.

“Getting to the competition,” said Huerta, “it just felt very surreal.”

She was astounded, yet exhilarated, that the commitment and devotion she had shown to the
team had earned them international ranking.

Overall, the team has notably won a total of five awards between the last two years of going to
the international competition. Doing so, they overcame the environment of emphasized pressure
and stress at the competition.

“Unless you’re there,” said Oras, “it’s hard to imagine the intimidation factor.”

Additionally, Huerta won the Marty Klein award for the second time, becoming the first individual
to win it multiple times. Her hard work and persistence while struggling to find a consistent team
throughout the years had proven worth it.

“Vanessa’s freshman year, she came in the door not even knowing how to use a drill,” said

He explained the immense and impressive skills Huerta has acquired throughout her time with
the HEHS engineering community. She came from having no experience in robotics, to
outstandingly winning a significant award in underwater engineering two times.

In terms of advice for others, Huerta said, “how well you do is based on how much you want it and how much effort you put in.”

Huerta also says that she wants to see another HEHS team go to the international competition
again and continue to shine. She is hopeful that they sustain a profound reputation.

(Left to right) Chris Ostrander, Wayne Oras, Justin Du, Vanessa Huerta, Armando Huerta, Melanie Rodriguez-Huerta, Jill Zande, David Golden