July 25, 2017
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.
Contestants in MATE ROV competition learn engineering and problem solving skills. (photo by Daniel Cespedes)
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 operate their underwater devices remotely, and sometimes with a video monitor. (photo by 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, said in the video.
Contestants often have to troubleshoot in real time. (photo by Daniel Cespedes)
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.
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.
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.
Photos from the 2017 contest in Oregon are on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page at c.kr/s/aHskYZdMiF
Volunteer scuba divers helped out at Oregon’s 6th annual Marine Advanced Technology Education Remotely Operated Vehicle competition at the pool at the Lincoln City Community Center. (photo by Daniel Cespedes)