R-MA teacher Dr. Anthony Maranto, center, discusses the physical construction of the combination aquaponics/aquaculture device with students Masaru Mori, left, and Sean Waddell.

Randolph-Macon Academy's Engineering Club has made it to the semi-final round of national competition in the Texas Instruments Codes Contest.

Only 10 teams nationally made it to the semifinals, including the two teams from R-MA that are led by Dr. Anthony Maranto.

The challenge for this year's contest is to design a product that automates or optimizes a process or product related to food, then use coding and Texas Instruments technology to build a model of the solution.

One team, named Robo-tastic, includes freshman Ethan Park and Amy Lin and sophomore Maxwell Yang. They constructed a box that will keep vegetables fresher for a longer period of time by killing bacteria with a bactericidal lab and adding humidity when it senses humidity is low.

The other team, Neptune Aeternum, includes freshman Sean Waddell, Masaru Mori and Justin Meng. They are building a combination aquaponics/aquaculture device that will raise fish and grow plants while sensing water temperature and light. They were inspired by the idea of growing fresh organic food for the R-MA dining hall.

Texas Instruments sent each group a TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator, a TI-Innovator Hub, TI-Innovator Accessory Packs and a $50 Visa gift card for additional miscellaneous supplies. Voting to select the final winner will begin June 7.