Student ROV design and engineering regionals set for May 4

Student launches an ROV during last year's Oregon Regional competitionLINCOLN City – More than 100 junior high, high school and college students will converge on the Lincoln Community Center this Saturday (May 4) to compete in the Oregon Regional Marine Advanced Technology ROV Competition – and a chance to advance to the international finals.

Teams from Albany, Astoria, Corbett, Corvallis, The Dalles, Eddyville, Lincoln City, Salem, Toledo, Portland and Waldport are expected for the competition which runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. at the community center, 2150 NE Oar Place. The event is open to the public.

Competing teams, ranging from 6th grade to college age, have designed and built tethered underwater robots known as remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs. The annual competition is sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant, the OregonCoast STEM Center, and the Oregon Chapter of the Marine Technology Society, and is intended to encourage Oregon students to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Full-scale ROVs are widely used in scientific research,  ocean exploration, homeland security, the offshore oil and gas industry, and other industries.  This year’s contest highlights the role ROVs play in the installation, operation, and maintenance of ocean observing systems,  collections of high-tech instruments above and below the waves that provide around-the-clock information about what is happening in the ocean. Via fiber optic cable, the data collection equipment continuously communicates information to scientists, engineers and technicians who use it to understand and make predictions about the ocean, coast, and ocean resources. Ocean Observing Systems provide critical information on climate change, toxic algal blooms, tsunamis and other ocean hazards.

Competing teams must pilot their ROVs to perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, from installing a simulated power and communications “hub” and scientific instruments in order to complete a seafloor ocean observatory to removing bio-fouling organisms from instruments and performing maintenance on moorings.

The winning team will advance to the 12th annual MATE International ROV Competition, June 20-22 in Federal Way, Wash.

The regional MATE program, one of 22 such competitions around the world, is supported by local sponsors including the Marine Technology Society, the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, OSU’s Pre-College Programs, Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators, the Siletz Tribe Charitable Funds, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Pro-Build, Advanced Research Corporation, and the NOAA Officers Family Association. Local marine technology professionals volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations.

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