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What better way to start off the savory month of October than with a headline so steeped in distilled awesomeness that it could raise the dead with a jubilant whoop? “Cal Poly Researchers Map Shipwrecks with Underwater Robots.” It doesn’t get any better than this, folks. Better fold that pair of kings now. 

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A research team comprised of students from both Cal Poly and Harvey Mudd College (a liberal arts college in Claremont, California) travelled to Malta for the deployment of underwater robots with the goals of mapping coastal shipwrecks by developing technology to aid in marine archaeology. The science of mapping shipwrecks has in the past been imperfect, as the work is at once slow-going and quite dangerous. But beyond the benefits of history gained with the knowledge of what was lost, it’s important to be able to identify what areas may be more risky to traverse than was previously thought—lest other boats and what treasures they may bear, such as life, be claimed by the sea. This project-—which aimed to develop an autonomous underwater vehicle system for intelligent shipwreck search, mapping, and visualization, and required the use of special vehicles and a diving team at three sites—was organized as a joint International Computer Engineering Experience (ICEX) program between the two colleges. 

The data gathered from the excursion is to be processed into 3-D photogrammetric imagery to aid in the mapping of objects and determining the distance between them. Engineering professor Chris Clark co-founded ICEX some six years ago as an international learning experience for Cal Poly computer engineering students, so when he joined the Harvey Mudd faculty in 2012, he opened up an opportunity for collaboration between the two colleges. This marks the fourth year that, together with Cal Poly computer science professor Zoë Wood, Clark has taken students on such a trip to Malta. 

The technology developed from this program goes beyond archaeology in its use, also potentially benefiting oceanography, biology, homeland security, and defense! Visit icex2015-malta.blogspot.com/ and hmc.edu/lair/ for further information on this wonderful program and its results. So how’s that for news?

October has only just begun, so anyone disappointed that this robot-related information was not in fact a heralding in of better, more efficient overlords, lose not thy faith! After all, elections are coming; keep a weather eye out!

After an incident with a particularly flirtatious copy machine, contributor Chris White-Sanborn found herself unable to ever listen to dubstep again. Send her smooth jazz (as well as your collegiate news) via cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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