High School Students Take to the Air for Offshore Technology Challenge

High school students will be at the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium Friday for a competition showcasing the science and technology skills related to offshore exploration and development.

The competition, sponsored by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Ocean Energy Safety Institute, will conclude with student teams piloting remote-controlled helicopters across the stadium field, powered by energy they harness using a piezoelectric technology developed by NASA. 

Piezoelectric materials can generate an electric charge in response to mechanical stress, and the students will use the concept to harness energy generated by underwater sound waves to power a remote control helicopter, crossing the stadium turf to land on a spot simulating an offshore platform. This is one of the first uses of this technology to facilitate offshore oil and gas operations.

The competition is part of BSEE’s efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and math education and engage the future technical workforce. The Ocean Energy Safety Institute was formed by BSEE in 2013 and includes UH, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin.

WHAT:                        Offshore Science and Technology Challenge for high school students, using the skills

                                   related to offshore exploration and development. Competition ends with students

                                   flying remote controlled helicopters powered by energy generated by underwater

                                   sound waves.   

WHO:                         Participating schools include Energy Institute High School, Charles H. Milby High School,

                                  Westside High School and Young Women’s Preparatory Academy are participating.


WHEN:                      BSEE Director Brian Salerno opens the competition with remarks at 9 a.m. Students

                                  will spend the morning adapting technology to produce energy and learning to fly the

                                  helicopters. Astronaut Michael Foreman offers the keynote address at 1 p.m.

                                  Competition begins at 1:45 p.m.

                                  Special appearance at 1 p.m. by U.S. Coast Guard Commander Josh Miller, hovering

                                  over the TDEDU field to offer a helicopter salute to the contestants and BSEE officials.

                                  Best times for media: 10 a.m.-noon, flight training and Top Gun circuit board


                                  1:30-3 p.m., flight competition on the stadium field. Director Salerno will also be available

                                  for interviews.


WHERE:                       TDECU Stadium at the University of Houston.

                                     Parking available in lot next to side entrance on Cougar Place Drive; tell attendant you are

                                     there for the BSEE tech challenge.

MEDIA CONTACT:         Jeannie Kever, 713-743-0778, m-713-504-3769, jekever@uh.edu.

                                     Eileen Angelico, 504-736-7535, m-504-654-7840, Eileen.Angelico@bsee.gov.