Swimmers were replaced by robots at the Chatham County Aquatic Center on Saturday, April 13th, as the annual Gray's Reef Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) underwater robotics competition took over the pool. Middle school, high school, and university teams from throughout the region took part in the event, which is one of Gray's Reef's largest annual outreach events.
The competition's goal is to expose young people to the science, technology, engineering, and math skills that are used by researchers in America's National Marine Sanctuaries.
The remotely-operated robots were required to complete a series of complex tasks in the pool, including manipulating props designed to replicate real-life underwater sensors used in the ocean environment. Said Carrollton (GA) High School team member Brendan Whitaker, "This year's task is oriented around servicing equipment underwater, so it involves fixing things, replacing old parts, and opening doors to install a connector." The students were also required to present posters as a marketing tool for their vehicles, submit a written technical report, and conduct an engineering presentation for judges.
NOAA science divers from Gray's Reef helped out in the pool, re-setting the props after each attempt by the teams. Educators and professionals from the University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, College of Coastal Georgia, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Greensboro, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Defense participated as competition judges and volunteers.
The first place Ranger Class team will represent the Southeast Region at the MATE International Competition held at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way, WA, June 20-22, 2013.
RANGER CLASS WINNERS
First Place - Carrollton High School, Carrollton, GA (InnovoceanX).
SCOUT CLASS WINNERS
First Place - Carrollton Middle School (Trojan 1), Carrollton, GA. Second Place - Carrollton Middle School, Carrollton, GA (Trojan 2). Third Place-Jasper County Middle School, Monticello, GA (TeamA).
Click here to view footage filmed during the SE MATE Regional ROV Competition held at the Chatham County Aquatic Center in Savannah on April 13.