Lights, Camera, Inspiration

Published in MIT News on February 3, 2014, by Camilla Brinkman, Edgerton Center

Alumni from MIT’s 2004 Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) Team and the Carl Hayden Community High School Falcon Robotics Team met this past November at the Edgerton Center to film a conversation about a period in their lives — almost 10 years ago — when they were competing neck-and-neck for first prize in the national MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) ROV Competition.

Back in 2004, the MIT ROV team, made up mostly of first and second-year students, was just getting off the ground. Another Edgerton-supported team, Project: ORCA, had won the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International RoboSub competition from 1998 to 2004, except in 2001 and 2003.Edgerton Center documentary film The Falcon Robotics team from Phoenix, Ariz. – made up of four Mexican-American teenagers with very few resources – surprised everyone, winning the competition by one point and gaining the status implied by "beating MIT."

An article in Wired magazine, “La Vida Robot” by Joshua Davis, and coverage from major media outlets created an outpouring of support for the Carl Hayden students while also raising public consciousness about the plight of undocumented students. Edgerton Center Instructor Ed Moriarty suggested that the Edgerton Center fly the team out from Phoenix to celebrate their victory at MIT. “Passionate engineering knows no boundaries, and to celebrate these students’ impressive feat was the right thing to do,” said Moriarty. These plans, however, could not materialize because the students were undocumented and could not travel by air in a post-9/11 world.

So on November 23, alumni from the Falcon Robotics Team (who could now travel legally) and the MIT ROV team came to MIT to participate in the documentary film “Underwater Dreams” by filmmaker Mary Mazzio of 50 Eggs Films.

Read the complete article, "Lights, Camera, Inspiration"