RALEIGH — They call it Seawolf V.
On land, it looks like little more than a suitcase with wings. But put this vessel in the water, and the display of engineering wizardry would make James Cameron proud.
Seawolf V can perform dives, barrel rolls and spins all with the press of a few buttons on a laptop computer.
Its the prized creation of N.C. State Universitys Underwater Aquatics Club, comprised of a dozen undergraduates studying electrical and computer engineering.
Each year, the club builds a robot and travels to San Diego for a RoboSub competition that pits N.C. State against colleges from around the world.
Piloting Seawolf, these students say, is a valuable way to put their classroom knowledge into action.
For an engineer, working on a project like this is what youre going to be doing for your entire life, said club member Matt Wiggins. The competition is one of those places you can sharpen your teeth before you get out into the world.
Seawolf showed off its tricks Sunday at the schools Casey Aquatic Center, probing the bottom of an 11-foot-deep pool while swimmers completed laps nearby.
The Underwater Robotics Club, founded in 2004, hosted the demonstration to recruit new members at the start of the fall semester.
Past club members have landed jobs at defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The ability to build a robot makes for an eye-catching addition to a resume, said junior Tim Mervine.
Its fun for us, but its one of the things that diversifies us to potential employers, he said.
With four thrusters, three cameras and an on-board computer powered by Intel, Seawolf ranks among the nations elite.
The 65-pound vessel placed seventh among 30 entries in last years RoboSub competition. Team members are already making plans for a newer, more agile robot in hopes of improving on their results.
I would like to see us be a contender up there with Cornell, said Taylor Stiles, a sophomore electrical engineering major from Fuquay-Varina. The more experience you have makes it less likely youll make something that doesnt work.