Spare Parts (2015)

As the name suggests and so is the story about four undocumented immigrants. Sean McNamara, the director along with David Alpert and George Lopez conceived the idea of filming an article published in the Wired magazine in 2005. The story about those four immigrants and their success in an underwater robotics competition. Some of us know but some needs to be enlightened. Lorenzo Santillan (a mechanical genius), Cristian Arcega (a theoretical genius), and Oscar Vazquez (a team motivator with good people skills) along with Luis Arranda (slow but a necessary beast) fought like warriors in 2004 to beat Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although they weren’t all focused on beating M.I.T and instead garnered all their energy into the technology to atleast stand third in the competition. The four immigrants were all from a high school in Phoenix, Arizona.

What’s special about that competition was their Stinky, an underwater robot build with a mere $800 fighting M.I.T’s $11,000 elegant piece of technology. Their success story was published as La Vida Robot in the Wired magazine, 2005.

The Stinky was made up of PVC pipes, pumps and propellers, cameras, lights, laser, and a microphone along with a set of batteries, processors, minuscule fans, and LEDs at the top in a small water-proof briefcase. Their design by accident gave them the leverage to extend mobility to the bot which others failed to do. Their housing and design gave them an extra 54% length of tethering wires for an underwater walk. But what caught the attention was the use of Tampons for absorbing water in the circuit housed inside the leaked briefcase at the top. This was their last minute solution for the not so water-proof design to stay in the fight and again this idea came from the mechanical genius. Now don’t get me wrong here, I only used to be a Mechanical Engineer.

The high school won three awards, the special achievement for being a high school and competing with the big guns, the best technical documentation, and the overall winnner of the competition. They then beat M.I.T for the next two years as well ensuring that it wasn’t any fluke.

Oscar ended up being a military personnel (his dream job and the sole motivator to get into the competition), Lorenzo and Luis ended up running their restaurant, and Cristian currently works on new product ideas.

George Lopez played the character of Fredi Cameron, the teacher, who brought the group of four lousy high schoolers together to do something good for themselves. This astounding story is spun well with the subtle humor which some reviewers failed to understand. Even the last scene of the movie is hilarious showcasing George Lopez as the tawdry teacher who contributed only $150 to the project. You’ll understand only when you’ll watch.

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