O’Donel High Wins Regional ROV Competition
Thursday, May 7, 2015

With an interest in electronics, mechanical technology and machines, junior and high school students from 30 schools across Newfoundland and Labrador had a chance to deep dive into the world of remotely operated vehicles (ROV) during the Marine Advanced Technology Education Centre (MATE) ROV Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Competition this past weekend.

After months of working in teams to design and build their own underwater robots, the students gathered around the world’s largest flume tank, located at the Marine Institute of Memorial University (MI) in St. John’s, NL to complete a series of challenges including exploring simulated ocean species, fixing a broken pipe and measuring the size of an ice berg.

 “This year marks the 14th annual MATE International competition and the students in both the regional SCOUT and RANGER classes were tasked with highlighting the role that ROVs play in polar science and the offshore oil and gas industry,” said Dwight Howse, Head of the School of Ocean Technology at MI.

 As part of the competition, the students maneuvered their ROVs under simulated sheet ice where they counted organisms, arranged scientific instruments, and collected iceberg data. They also inspected pipelines and tested oilfield equipment – tasks that ROV operators often conduct in the offshore oil and gas industry.

 “Through the competition, the students apply their learning to complete tasks similar to those performed in our oceans industries today,” continued Mr. Howse. “It is also an opportunity for students and educators to connect with employers and working professionals from marine industries, highlights marine-related career opportunities and promotes the development of technical, problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills.”

While the SCOUT competitors all walked away with fantastic experiences, new friends and enhanced skills, those competing in the RANGER class were vying for the chance to compete at the upcoming International competition which will take place in St. John’s from June 25-27 using the facilities at the Marine Institute’s Flume Tanks and the NRC OCRE’s Ice Tank and Offshore Engineering Basin.

O’Donel High School in Mount Pearl came out victorious and will move on to the June competition along with second place winner, Mount Pearl Senior High and third place winner, Gonzaga High School. Two other teams taking part in the upcoming International competition include, the 2014 International winners, Clarenville High who will compete in the Explorer class and Memorial University’s post-secondary Eastern Edge Robotics team who will also compete in the Explorer class.

Thirteen schools completed in the junior high or SCOUT regional competition, including: Amalgamated Academy, Beaconsfield Junior High, Brother Rice Junior High, Corner Brook Intermediate, Frank Roberts Junior High, Hillview Academy, Holy Trinity Junior High, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Lewisporte Intermediate, MacDonald Drive Junior High, Pasadena Academy, St. Mark’s School and Villanova Junior High.

High schools who were part of the RANGER competition included: Ascension Collegiate, Baltimore School Complex, Belanger Memorial, Corner Brook Regional High, Gonzaga Regional High, Heritage Collegiate, Holy Spirit High School, Holy Trinity High, Leo Burke Academy, Lewisporte Collegiate, Mount Pearl Senior High, O'Donel High School, Pasadena Academy, Phoenix Academy, Prince of Wales Collegiate, Queen Elizabeth Regional High School and St. Mark’s School.

The weekend competition was part of a network of 23 regional contests that take place across the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Scotland, Japan, and Egypt. Student teams from middle schools, high schools, home schools, community colleges, and universities participate in the events, which consist of different "classes" that vary depending on the sophistication of the ROVs and the mission requirements.

The 2015 regional competition was a success thanks to support from Statoil, ExxonMobil, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the provincial department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development, Husky Energy, Subsea7, Research & Development Corporation, GRI Simulations Inc. and the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland.