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NEWS | July 6, 2023

Domo Arigato High School Roboto

By John Wayne Liston Trident Refit Facility, Bangor

The rays of a bright morning sun greeted the eager-faced students from the Bremerton High School robotics team as they stepped off the bus at the Trident Refit Facility, Bangor (TRFB).

Six-year TRFB employee Tyler Kerle, Electronics Integrated Mechanic Training leader, from the Photonics/Periscope shop greeted the children he has mentored since 2021.

The visit was the idea of Kerle who worked with leadership to organize it and give the students a glimpse of the fascinating work accomplished every day here at TRFB.

Kerle has been mentoring high school teams since 2016 after participating in robotics himself from middle school through high school. The team gives the students experience in various skill sets in robotics, engineering, programing, design and applied electronics. “I have loved every minute of it. It teaches them so much in a lot of different specialties,” said Kerle.

The team works together to design, fabricate and program an industrial sized robot to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition. They are given the challenge parameters and have six to eight weeks to prepare their creation. Numerous regional events lead to a championship with 3,304 teams coming from 31 countries with over 82,600 youth members. “One of the most important things about participating in this club is that it teaches the students how to act with graciousness and professionalism. No matter who you face as an opponent always be gracious and professional as you never know who may be your colleague in the future,” said Kerle.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) has been a focus in Washington state education since 2013. “STEM students are the future. Clubs like these gives them the groundwork in so many fields to help them in their futures,” said Kerle. The state has developed the STEM Education Innovation Alliance which has worked to invest in these areas and strongly encourage growth in clubs like these.

The class was able to tour TRFB and look at many of the skilled trades practiced here including: Electric, Paint, Plating, Pipefitting and Shipfitters. One of those shops was Kerle’s own photonics and periscopes where the students learned about the various optic processes and got to see a Type 18 periscope which is almost fully electrical. They were also introduced to a field fox that is used to perform radio frequency testing on the periscopes. "It's really amazing to see all of the incredible work being done local to our school district,” said Blake Greisinger, team coach.

They capped off their tour of TRFB with a visit to the command suite where they demonstrated a few of their latest creations for senior command leaders. Their creations showed off the hard work of the team and displayed various abilities including: controlled projectile launching, retroreflective vision tracking and a complex and powerful swerve drive that can translate and rotate the robot in any direction at any time.

The commanding officer and the leadership team shared an overview of the TRFB mission and some of the diversity of STEM principles used in our shops. “We can’t forget that our community is so valuable for our success. We must support programs like these and also acknowledge the tremendous contribution of one of our own in supporting STEM education and the future of these students,” said Capt. Mike Eberlein, commanding officer, TRFB.

“These students are the engineers and tradespeople of the future. It is fantastic to be able to introduce them to real world applications of these subjects as they grow their education,” said Cmdr. Zach Harry, executive officer, TRFB.

Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts had to postpone a submarine tour on this visit, but the command went to work for the kids and was able to coordinate a tour and demonstration with Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron One. “The trip was really cool. I thought that the [unmanned undersea vehicles] were very cool and really enjoyed the whole tour. I learned how robotics is connected to many jobs and how it prepares me for those types of jobs in the future,” said student Noah Kroeker.

As the students boarded their bus for the return trip to school, the excited buzz was contagious.

Kerle is already coordinating a return trip to get the kids a submarine tour.

The mentorship of Kerle is supported by TRFB with volunteer hours as well as the Department of Defense Stem Outreach Program. “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education has been recognized by the DOD as a priority that starts in elementary school. STEM Outreach strives to attract and cultivate STEM talent throughout the education continuum to enrich our future workforce,” said Diana Palermo, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility STEM Outreach Coordinator.

“Tyler is the kind of person that wants to help everyone else grow. I can’t think of a better person that will have a more lasting impact on these students,” said Nick Allen, Periscopes and Electronics shop supervisor.

“Engaging these energetic young minds creates a positive energy to our command and hopefully it will lead to some of them considering STEM careers in their future,” said Eberlein.

“We planted a seed today; with time and growth we may have created a new engineer or tradesperson for the TRFB of tomorrow.”