Students gain work experience building submersibles

Cameron Koch

Engineering students are getting real work experience building a line of remote control submersibles and readying them for commercialization.

The project is the baby of staff engineer Ron Rizzo who originally built a submersible for the Warren County Rescue Squad that continues to be used to this day. Rizzo felt that he could continue to improve on the idea and make the submersibles more inexpensive and smaller than before, allowing for a wider range of possible uses.

“I felt I could make it cheaper,” Rizzo said. “With a cheaper submersible it opens the door for other needs.”

Rizzo said the other possible uses for the device include cave exploration and bridge inspection.

Eight students over the summer are being paid helping design and build equipment for the project under Rizzo, all made possible by a grant from the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation and an award from the Buck$ For Bright Ideas program.

Three models of the submersible are being built by the student team: a model that can be controlled by a laptop, a submersible that includes a case that houses 7-inch monitor, and a model that includes a larger monitor and capability for high-definition video.

Engineering students may be building the submersible, but to sell it students from other majors such as marketing, entrepreneurship, and computer science are also involved.

As a requirement for the grant, the team must have designed, built and tested the device as well as have a feasible plan to build a business around the submersible or sell patents for the device by April 1.

“I personally would like to see it go as a business, then we could hire more students,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said he is happy to help out the community and to be able to provide valuable work experience to students.

“To be able to utilize some of their skills…it’s really giving them good experience.”