Students build self-driving boats at Clemson Summer Camp


A group of 13 elementary, middle and high school students from across the Upstate graduated from a summer camp Monday after each building a self-driving boat that can pick up waste from the ocean.

The group was led by automotive engineering professors at Clemson’s I-CAR campus for the “Autonomous Boat Summer Camp for Ocean Conservation,” sponsored by Bosch Rexroth.

“We want to save our ocean to collect our plastic waste,” said Dr. Yunyi Jia, one of the camp professors. “This is the future…something we have to address.”

Over the course of a month, students were teamed up with engineers to design, build and program autonomous boats that can collect waste in water.

On the camp’s last day Monday, there was a competition to see which boats were the most autonomous and sustainable. The goal was to inspire a love for STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

At the end of the camp, all 13 students said they had aspirations of pursuing a career in the field of science, medicine or engineering.

Professors hope to bring the summer camp back next year. They also have dreams of working with Clemson graduate students to create autonomous boats on a larger scale that can function in the ocean and collect plastic waste.

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