Eagle Scout’s underwater robotic vehicle wins 1st place prize

By Staff     1/17/2019

Local Eagle Scout Eric Friestedt from Troop 818 in Rancho Santa Margarita earns National Championship honors at the 2018 Sea Perch International Challenge. Eric represented California and competed as the only Boy Scout team out of 170 teams from 30 states across the U.S. and other countries at the National Championships held at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. This year’s competition was supported by Raytheon. 

Eric, a junior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, has competed at the Sea Perch Nationals for the last five seasons. This year in the open class division he earned 1st place as National Champion. Last year, as a sophomore at the nationals held at Georgia Tech, Eric placed 3rd in the nation.    

The Sea Perch Challenge is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.  The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation (AUVSIF) manages the program. It provides students with the opportunity to learn about under water robotics and engineering concepts while building the underwater remote operated vehicle called the “Sea Perch.” Students further learn about problem solving, technical applications of design and the physics of underwater propulsion and buoyancy.  

Teams earned the right to compete by winning their regional Sea Perch Challenge. These teams gathered to test what they have learned by putting their Sea Perch remote operated vehicles ROV’s through a series of underwater challenges. Each team also prepared a 24-page engineering notebook that defined and explained their Sea Perch learning experience.  

The Sea Perch Program, which introduces middle and high school students to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through building the underwater ROV, has grown exponentially, reaching over 300,000 students in the past eight years.  

Eric’s passion is robotics. He has participated and competed in robotics for the last 10 years. His first two years were at MindStorm Robotics Academy in New Jersey, then four years with First Lego League in California, where he and his team earned Championship Runner-up at the LEGOLAND Open Championship.  

Eric has competed four years in the VEX Robotics Challenge as well as competing on a Frist Tech Challenge team for two years. Last year the Boys Scouts of American presented Eric with two special STEM SuperNova awards. Next year Eric will be on three robotics teams including Sea Perch. He is grateful for his team’s sponsorship from Fluidmaster headquartered in San Juan Capistrano and the Boy Scouts of America.