By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 2/12/21
Back when schools were still in session in 2019, Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) went looking for a name for its robotic sewer truck. LCU had success naming its roadrunner “Aguacito” out on the West Mesa Industrial Park through students at Hillrise Elementary, and the same school came through with creative suggestions and the winning name.
The new name, selected by the LCU Board of Commissioners, was R.U.B.B.L.E – Respectable, Underground, Brain, Bot, that loves the Environment. It was the brainchild of all the 4th grade students at the school. It was integrated into the social studies curriculum with teachers Gordon Strawn and David Uribe and Carol Alvarado used the naming competition as a prompt for writing exercise in her English Language Arts class.
“It’s unfortunate that COVID-19 hindered our ability to fully engage with the students that championed the new name for our sewer truck, but R.U.B.B.L.E will live on to show that children’s input in their community is still important,” John Mrozek, LCU deputy director Wastewater, said.
R.U.B.B.L.E the robotic truck is built for small jobs that have a huge preventative value – seeing where cracks and blockages might be underground. Its continuing mission - to help wastewater line maintenance by crawling through drains and reporting back with a camera attached to its “head.” R.U.B.B.L.E finds the exact location of damage so workers at ground level know exactly where to dig to make repairs and may also encounter the local wildlife, seeing mice or snakes that might have decided on a home in the sewer line.
“When our students see teachers collaborating with community opportunities, like the naming contests that LCU offers, they acquire a sense of belonging to a greater whole,” Uribe said. “As they say, ‘It takes a community to raise a child.’ Las Cruces Public Schools and LCU are part of that community raising our young future leaders and decision makers. My professional colleagues and I are fortunate to be part of the local and global think tank to bring creative, responsive, and engaging opportunities to young minds.”