Students Dive into STEM in Statewide Underwater Robotics Competition
May 3, 2016 – North Bend High School and the North Bend Municipal Pool were overflowing with SCUBA divers and underwater robots last Saturday for the 5th Annual Oregon Regional Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Competition. Over 200 elementary, middle school, high school, and college students from across Oregon took part in the event, as teams launched their underwater robots in an effort to take top honors in the region and advance to the 15th Annual International MATE ROV Competition, which will be held at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas at the end of June.
Sponsored by the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, a collaborative effort of over 60 coastal partners, this competition is an annual event that encourages students to learn and apply Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills as they develop underwater robots – also known as ROVs – to complete missions that simulate real-world problems from the ocean workplace.
Forty-one student teams from Warrenton, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Newport, Toledo, Waldport, Florence, Bandon, North Bend, Corvallis, Albany, Aloha and The Dalles participated in the day-long event.
Saturday’s competition was one of 26 regional MATE ROV competitions that are held annually around the world that feed into the International MATE ROV Competition. The competition theme changes every year, and this year’s theme highlights technologies that are developed for exploration and scientific use in both ocean and space environments. For example, in the ocean-themed missions, students used their ROVs to collect oil samples and coral specimens. The space-based missions challenged students to pilot their ROVs under the ice sheet of Jupiter’s moon Europa to collect data and deploy instrumentation. The student teams were also required to present posters detailing their ROV design and construction, and provide an engineering presentation for judges.
This year, the Oregon Regional Competition was supported by Oregon Sea Grant (OSG), the MATE Center, the Marine Technology Society (MTS), the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), The Sexton Corporation, Georgia Pacific Foundation, and Oregon State University. Over 40 volunteers from these and other organizations helped run the competition, served as mission and engineering judges, and provided dive support.
The two advanced-level college teams participating in the Explorer Class division demonstrated their ROVs to the younger students, and some of the team members served as volunteers helping to run the day’s events. Explorer teams are not required to compete at the Regional level for entry into the International competition, but they do have to submit video evidence of their ROV’s capabilities to qualify. The list of qualifying Explorer teams will be released by the MATE Center on May 15th.
Of the thirty-nine remaining teams that competed in Saturday’s event, 15 competed in the beginner-level Scout Class, 15 competed in the intermediate-level Navigator Class, and nine competed in the upper-level Ranger Class. The top team in the Ranger Class, “Finnovators” from Newport High School, will advance to the MATE International Competition to represent Oregon. The International Competition will involve top Ranger and Explorer teams from around the world and will be held at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas June 23-25, 2016.
Winners of the 2016 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition are:
- 1st Place – Finnovators, from Newport High School – Newport, OR
- 2nd Place – Zalophus Systems from Life Christian School – Aloha, OR
- 3rd Place – Taft Tech from Taft 7-12 High School – Lincoln City, OR
- 1st Place – West Coast Robotics from Bandon High School – Bandon, OR
- 2nd Place – Zalotech from Life Christian School – Aloha, OR
- 3rd Place – Neptune’s Nightmare from Taft 7-12 High School – Lincoln City, OR
- 1st Place – Zalora Industries from Life Christian School – Aloha, OR
- 2nd Place – Coherence Robotics from Bandon High School – Bandon, OR
- 3rd Place – Irish ROVs from Crestview Heights School – Waldport, OR
JUDGES’ CHOICE AWARDS
- Team Spirit Award – R.U.W.E. from Taft 7-12 High School – Lincoln City, OR
- Best Poster Award – Zalophus Systems from Life Christian School – Aloha, OR
The Finnovators from Newport High School placed 1st in the Ranger Class and received seed money from local industry to help defray costs of their travel to the International Competition in Houston
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