Posted by Rick Cooper, Oregon Sea Grant, Breaking Waves Blog, July 25, 2017

 

2017 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
2017 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

A new video shows how Oregon students are preparing for technical careers by building underwater robots for an annual competition in which they demonstrate their skills in front of engineers and scientists.

The video, which was produced by Oregon State University with funding from Oregon Sea Grant, was filmed during the 2017 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition, which Oregon Sea Grant coordinates. It is one of about 30 regional contests around the world in which students qualify for an annual international competition.

Contestants often have to troubleshoot in real time. (photo by Daniel Cespedes)
Contestants often have to troubleshoot in real time. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

“Our goal is to really get students interested in science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — and connect them with marine technicians and engineers and marine scientists that utilize remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs,” Tracy Crews, the manager of Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program and OSU Extension Service, said in the video.

Thirty-one teams from Oregon participated in this year’s competition, which was held in April at the pool at the Lincoln City Community Center. More than 200 students from elementary school through college demonstrated devices they built.

“For students who struggle with conventional school, it’s a chance for them to really shine,” Melissa Steinman, a teacher at Waldport High School, said in the video.

Contestants operate their underwater devices remotely, and sometimes with a video monitor. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
Contestants operate their underwater devices remotely, and sometimes with a video monitor. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

A new theme is chosen each year. This year’s theme highlighted the role of remotely operated vehicles in monitoring the environment and supporting industries in port cities. Like port managers and marine researchers, the students guided their robots through tasks that simulated identifying cargo containers that fell overboard, repairing equipment, and taking samples of hypothetically contaminated sediment and shellfish. Students also presented marketing materials they created and gave engineering presentations.

“A couple of teams, they just nailed it,” Ken Sexton, one of the judges and owner of The Sexton Corp., said in the video.

Contestants in MATE ROV competition learn engineering and problem solving skills. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
Contestants in MATE ROV competition learn engineering and problem solving skills. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

Students were also tasked with creating mock companies, thinking like entrepreneurs and working together to “manufacture, market, and sell” their robots. The students gained project management and communication skills as they managed a budget, worked as a team, brainstormed solutions and delivered presentations.

“Some of my team members are really, really good at programming, now,” Natalie DeWitt, a senior at Newport High School, said in the video. “And we have one kid who is really good at using CAD software design, now. And they actually had internships over the summer … those experiences we had in robotics gave us qualifications for jobs that we wouldn’t have had before.”

“It’s really good problem-solving, teamwork, just everything all together. It really helps … you have better skills for the future,” said Kyle Brown, a junior at Bandon High School.

Robotics poster presentation by a team from Newport High School. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
Robotics poster presentation by a team from Newport High School. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

Photos from the 2017 contest in Oregon are on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page at c.kr/s/aHskYZdMiF

 

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