Engineering Technology Students Make a Big Splash with Pond Skimmer

How do you safely remove debris and litter from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water?

With a pond-skimming drone boat, of course!

Two groups of engineering technology students decided to take on the task of designing and developing pond skimming devices as their Senior Capstone project during the spring semester.

Every year, the College of Applied & Technical Studies (CATS) mechanical and electrical/electronic students at Kent State University at Tuscarawas mechanical and electrical/electronic students combine efforts to design, develop, test and publicly present a final project.

For the first time, the project reveal and demonstration was conducted off campus at Tuscora Park’s pond in New Philadelphia.

“For years, municipalities and landowners have been tasked with the burden of removing liter and debris from ponds and bodies of water by means of long poles, boats, and people wading into the depths,” said Dave Schlosser, engineering technology instructor. “Bodies of water have several inherent issues, such as currents, unknown depths, uneven bottoms, and trip/snag hazards that can pose safety hazards for those tasked with pond cleaning activities.”

The purpose of the pond skimmer drone is to collect floating debris and litter from a body of water without endangering human life. The device uses a remote-control system and can be controlled from land or boat.

Along with cleaning the water's surface, the device has other uses as well.

“A secondary use for the pond skimmer would be as a remote-controlled lifeguard device with the ability to tow a life preserver to people in distress,” said Schlosser. “The pond skimmer would reduce the risk of injury or death of potential rescuers.”

The two teams – Quality H2O and G.O.A.T (Gatherer of Aquatic Trash) – followed different specs in their designs resulting in two completely different types of apparatuses. Both teams estimated they spent well over 1,000 hours during the semester printing, designing and building their projects.

Quality H2O team members included Evan Shoup, Kevin Mace, Ethan McPeek, Braedan Harris, Hayden Dixon and Carson Paden.  

Tean H2O with their project

Their skimmer worked like a jet ski and sailed across the top of the pond effortlessly, collecting pieces of debris in a screened section located in the middle of the black device as it scoured the pond.

“It runs on an airplane remote jet drive, has lots of torque and is battery powered,” said Mace. “It may have the capability to work on larger bodies of water.”

Team G.O.A.T. members were Erik Doran, Kylie Miklovi, Brody Alford, Jacinto Itzep Santiago, Bryce Hoffman, John Chaney, and Brennan Kerns, who was recently called up to the National Guard and had to miss the final project results.

Team GOAT with their project

Their device resembled a pontoon boat, was much larger in size, and used a spring conveyor and four thrusters to gather debris and lift it into a trash collector bucket. The pond skimmer weighs 85 pounds and can carry up to 200 pounds.

“The project was definitely interesting,” said Chaney. “We started the project in January. Started as a few drawings on paper and ended up as a 3D model. We’ve done some float tests and the conveyor is functional.”

Unfortunately, during their final exam presentation, something went amiss and they were not able to demonstrate the skimmer. Doran said the machine experienced negative polarization an hour before the event. While they tried to make repairs, there wasn’t enough time to get it in working order.

As in the real world, both groups experienced difficulties and worked to find solutions through brain-storming, creative-thinking, team-work, communication and problem-solving – skills that will be very beneficial to these future engineers.

“What I really liked best is that we came together as a team to coordinate the project,” said Harris.   

This Senior Capstone project could not be completed without the support of the following sponsors: Dino Piergallini & Sons Equipment, FoxFury Lighting – High Performance Drone Lighting, HB Fuller Co. – Adhesives, ST Engineering – Kidron Body, Tusco Mfg., and Buckeye Career Center.

The College of Applied and Technical Studies is home to Kent State University associate degrees. At the Tuscarawas Campus, students have the opportunity to pursue Associate of Applied Science degrees in engineering technology in mechanical/systems and electrical/electronic technology – which is also offered at the Trumbull Campus.

To learn more about our engineering technology degree opportunities, visit or

POSTED: Thursday, May 25, 2023 01:35 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2023 11:15 AM
Kent State Tuscarawas