Established in 2012, Utah Underwater Robotics (UUR) is an underwater robotics outreach program in Utah middle schools and elementary schools. The program provides students with a hands-on opportunity to build tethered, underwater robots (ROVs), while learning valuable concepts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Participating groups are directed by local, volunteer teachers who help their students construct their own ROVs using materials that are readily available and inexpensive. Through building their own ROVs, students learn about basic circuits, buoyancy, simple robotics, material science and innovation. In conjunction with Brigham Young University’s Technology Engineering Education department, UUR has been studying the effectiveness of this program, and its ability to educate students in STEM.
UUR was originally run out of Brigham Young University’s “Splash Lab”. Professor Tadd Truscott, Ph.D. student Randy Hurd and Kip Hacking founded the program. Funding for the program was initially provided by the Office of Naval Research. The program has since been funded by the generous donations of local sponsors. Currently the program is under the direction of BYU Professor Geoff Wright.
Every March, students have the chance to participate in the annual UUR competition, held in Lehi, Utah. During the competition, student teams put their ROVs to the test by completing underwater simulations and obstacles. Winning teams qualify for a national competition, held by Seaperch. Preparation for the UUR competition begins each fall. See Competition Event for further details.
Geoff Wright is the managing director of Utah Underwater Robotics. Geoff directs and implements the research behind the program, including measuring the educational effectiveness of the program, specifically STEM outcomes. He is also responsible for program funding and budget management.
Geoff is currently a Technology and Engineering Education professor at Brigham Young University. His research primarily focuses on the effectiveness of STEM programs in K-12 students. Geoff received a B.S in Technology Teaching Education and a Ph.D. in Instructional Psychology and Technology from Brigham Young University.
Founder & Director
Kip Hacking is a founder of Utah Underwater Robotics, and served as the program director from 2014 to 2018. In his time as director, Kip oversaw many refinements and innovations in the management and operation of the program and competition, including improvements to the ROV kit. As director, Kip handles the day-to-day operations of the program. This includes ROV kit design, teacher and school communications and running the annual competition. Under his direction, the program grew from 250 students to over one thousand students in four years.
Kip is also the CEO of Capture Beyond Limits, a photography and videography technology company. He was recognized as one of the top 3 student entrepreneurs at Brigham Young University, and one of the top 10 student entrepreneurs in the state of Utah. Kip is pursuing a B.S in Computer Science from Brigham Young University.
Tadd T. Truscott
Tadd T. Truscott was a founder and original managing director of Utah Underwater Robotics. The STEM-focused program was a result of his vision to provide young students with an affordable and effective way to get hands-on experience in science and engineering. To bring the program to fruition, Tadd secured an Office of Naval Research grant in 2012. Since then, thousands of students have been given access to engineering resources and the opportunity to compete at a state and national level in underwater robotics.
Tadd is currently a professor at Utah State University, where he researches the field of fluid dynamics. He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah, and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for research in the field of hydrodynamics.
Randy Hurd is a founder and former director of Utah Underwater Robotics. He designed the original infrastructure of the program, including competition rules and processes. Additionally, he oversaw relationships with all participating schools and was a frequent visitor in classrooms across the state of Utah to help students build their ROVs.
Randy received his B.S. and Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the same field at Utah State University. His research focuses on investigating the impact dynamics of highly deformable spheres with the water free surface.