Students to Focus on the Science of Undersea Volcanoes at MATE Centerâ€™s 2010 International ROV Competition
An underwater robot known as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) carefully navigates the precarious terrain of Lo’ihi, an active undersea volcano located off the coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i. The ROV’s operators maneuver the vehicle into a small opening in the wall of a crater, hoping to collect samples of a species potentially new to science. Will they succeed before an earthquake or eruption forces them to abort the mission?
Students participating in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center’s ROV competition will find out when they face similar challenges this summer. To be held on the Big Island of Hawai’i, the theme of the competition is undersea volcanoes and the role that ROVs play in their science and exploration. The focus of MATE’s missions is the Lo‘ihi seamount, an active undersea volcano rising more than 3,000 meters above the seafloor. The 2010 competition will be held June 24-26 at the University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Hilo.
MATE’s competition uses ROVs to teach technical, engineering, scientific, and critical thinking skills. It is designed to present middle school, high school, community college, and university students with the same types of challenges that scientists and engineers face when working underwater. Since 2002, student teams from all over the world have been meeting annually to compete using ROVs that they design and build.
MATE’s 2010 mission tasks challenge teams to deploy instruments, take sensor readings, plot data, and collect samples of geologic features as well as organisms that inhabit the flanks of the underwater volcano. In addition to the underwater missions, teams must make oral and written engineering presentations to a panel of judges who represent various aspects of the marine industry. Each team is evaluated on the design, construction, and performance of its ROV; the members’ ability to communicate what they learned; and how they put their knowledge to use in designing and building their ROV.
Before the June event, teams from across the world will participate in regional events that feed into the international competition. Nineteen regional competitions are part of the MATE Center’s ROV competition network:
• Big Island (Hilo, Hawai‘i)
• Carolina (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
• Florida (Cocoa, Florida)
• Great Lakes (Alpena, Michigan)
• Hawaii Underwater Robot Challenge (Oahu, Hawai‘i)
• Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
• Mid-Atlantic (Hampton, Virginia)
• Monterey Bay (Monterey, California)
• New England (Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts)
• Newfoundland & Labrador (St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador)
• Nova Scotia (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
• Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Washington)
• Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
• Scotland (Aberdeen, Scotland)
• Shedd Aquarium-Midwest (Chicago, Illinois)
• Southern California Fly-Off (San Diego, California)
• Southeast (Savannah, Georgia)
• Texas (Houston, Texas)
• Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Headquartered at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California, MATE is a national partnership of community colleges, universities, high schools, employers, and working professionals whose mission is to improve marine technical education and meet marine workforce needs. Its competition is the first student robotics competition to focus exclusively on ROVs. The MATE ROV competition is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the MTS ROV Committee, NOAA, and other ocean- and technology-related organizations. For more information, please visit http://www.marinetech.org/rov_competition/index.php.