6th annual MAST Expo in Port Hueneme focuses on local youth

PORT HUENEME, Calif. - The 6th Annual MAST Expo took place at the Port of Hueneme Wednesday afternoon.

This year the the Maritime Advanced Systems Technology Expo decided to do things a little different and focus on the youth in the community with a friendly competition: a sea gliding race.

The annual event is a chance to bring together leading tech innovators, entrepreneurs and customers to exhibit their cutting edge technologies.

“This year we have taken on a whole new twist to it and really made it about our youth,” said Kristin Decas, CEO of the Port.

This year, 300 students from six different high school around Ventura County took part.

“One activity is for a semester, this year the students built a sea glider and they just tested their exciting new toys that they built in school and had a contest here,” said Decas.

Jade Chongsathapornpong is a senior at Oxnard high school. Along with his robotic team, he was hoping their creation would come in first.

“We built these robots a couple of months ago and unfortunately we weren’t able to get access to a pool at our school to actually test them, so this is our first water test,” said Chongsathapornpong.

There was a lot of trial and error during the race for each team.

“It has been kind of frustrating, but at the same time I think all of us here we have learned quit a bit about putting together electronics, working with software and that kind of thing,” said Chongsathapornpong.

The event has unique opportunities for students to learn about technology companies as well as the products they create such as drones, underwater vehicles, and robots.

“We tried to take this program to a whole new level so we can introduce the students to the maritime sector and help them build exciting career paths,” said Decas.

Even though Jade and his team's glider didn’t come in first, the experience and opportunity was priceless.    

“It is amazing to see what other people put together and it is quit satisfying to see how other people approach a certain kind of problem," said Chongsathapornpong. "It is just interesting.”

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