Waldport Senior Awarded Scholarship

Waldport Senior Awarded $2000 Ocean Steward Scholarship

The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport holds its annual Ocean Steward Celebration fundraiser in Portland every spring, and this year marked the inaugural presentation of the Schlesinger-Thrasher Ocean Steward Scholarship. The $2000 scholarship is the brainchild of Ken Thrasher and Barry Schlesinger, dedicated Aquarium board members impressed and inspired by the Aquarium’s educational programs. “They saw an opportunity to link the Aquarium’s efforts with the broader educational community,” said Caryl Zenker, the Aquarium’s Vice President of Development, who organizes the event.

“The Aquarium’s amazing volunteers and staff support the inquisitive minds of young people, and spur their interests in the sciences,” said Ken Thrasher. “The Schlesinger-Thrasher scholarship will help enable a student to take their interests in marine science to a higher level in college, and hopefully to a career in the science field.”

schlesingerthrasherThis year’s scholarship recipient is Waldport High School senior and aquarium youth volunteer Etasha Golden. Etasha started in the aquarium’s Youth Program in 2015, volunteering more than 150 hours over the course of the summer. This year she is returning to the youth program as an interpreter as well as crew chief, a leadership role in which she mentors, guides and supervises her fellow youth volunteers.

Next year Etasha is planning to attend Oregon State University and study engineering. When she entered the youth volunteer program she was unsure of which field in engineering she wanted to study, but her experiences as an Aquarium youth volunteer have helped steer her toward environmental, oceanographic and humanitarian engineering.  She is particularly interested in wave energy and the use of underwater robots, and looks forward to expanding upon her passion for the ocean in college.

The Schlesinger-Thrasher scholarship is tailored toward local students pursuing a college degree, particularly those involved with the Aquarium’s volunteer programs. Potential honorees are asked to describe how volunteering for the Aquarium impacted them personally, and how the experience will help further their goals.

Congratulations Etasha!

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a partner in the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, and offers marine-focused STEM experiences for youth and adults through its exhibits, education programs, teacher resources, online Oceanscape Network, and volunteer programs.



2016 Oregon MATE ROV Competition

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


  • 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
Finnovators from Newport High School 2016 1st place Ranger Class

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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