Away from bustling Tempe, an all-female group of ASU students on the Polytechnic campus are quietly constructing a fully autonomous underwater vehicle capable of completing tasks such as shooting torpedoes and recognizing visual cues. The team is led by Faridodin "Fredi" Lajvardi who is the vice president of STEM initiatives for the Si Se Pueda Foundation, a group that aims to "improve the quality of life of under-served populations" and a partner for the project. The team will compete against other collegiate robotics teams this summer.
Song: Can't Sleep
Samantha Nieto [00:05]: My name is Sam, I'm a junior studying industrial engineering and I am the team spokesperson/social media person for Desert WAVE.
The WAVE stands for "Women in Autonomous Vehicle Engineering" and our whole purpose is we are going to be competing in the AUVSI robosub competition. AUVSI stand for "Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International" and essentially it is just an AV competition, autonomous underwater vehicles. It's with colleges from all around the world and we're going to be competing there.
Fredi?, our lead mentor, he noticed in the field of engineering a lot of women leave because there aren't a lot of other women and it's male-dominated. So he wanted to make this team and I really believe in what he wanted to do.
There's a lot of stereotypes that go along with being a woman in engineering that I have noticed going to my classes. It's kind of hard to speak up when you are in a group of all males because you feel like, "I have to stay quiet," that's just the stereotype, but here I feel like I'm really contributing and helping. Once I finally get to the industry I'll feel more prepared to speak up and really be a team member.
Whitney Foster [01:26]: My name is Whitney Foster and I am the president at Desert WAVE.
We've been so fortunate getting so many mentors. We are working with Dr. Dan Frank and then Fredi who is a member of the Si Se Puede Foundation, so we are partnering with them. We just have so many mentors that have taught us solid works, and we've been able to work on drilling skills and all the hands-on [experience], those jobs you don't get in your classes. So when I get to do those things it makes me very excited because I can feel the robot coming together, not just seeing a design on a computer.
I think it's going to be really helpful in getting a lot of students, especially young girls, to come to [Polytechnic] campus because people will want to come and join this club because it brings so much to the table.
This is a wonderful club and program and I really hope that we can grow and become something great here at ASU.