The depths of the Mississippi

Students piloted an ROV, or underwater robot, as part of a hands-on class activity.

As the semester was winding down, UWL junior Cierra Neitzel was exploring the outdoors in the La Crosse area — including the Mississippi River near Goose Island County Park. “This is our third field trip this week,” says Neitzel.

Neitzel, a recreation management and therapeutic recreation major, was with her class using an ROV — an underwater robot — to see what mysteries lie beneath the surface of the mighty Mississippi. The robot is often used to explore places that are difficult or impossible to get to.

“For example, it lets experts survey dock structures in strong currents, like the Mississippi River,” says Laurie Harmon, associate professor of recreation management and therapeutic recreation.

These field trips give students hands-on experience with tools and activities they’ll like use after graduation. “This will definitely help me in my professional field,” says Neitzel. “I never expected to do anything like this.”