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Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 3:00 am

LINCOLN CITY - Underwater robots designed and built by middle school, high school and college students will be featured at the Lincoln City Community Center when Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Coast STEM Center and the Oregon Chapter of the Marine Technology Society host a competition from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4.

The Oregon regional Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) competition is an annual event that encourages students from across Oregon to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills as they develop remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to complete missions that simulate real-world problems from the ocean workplace.

ROVs are tethered underwater robots used in scientific research, ocean exploration, homeland security, the offshore oil and gas industry, and other industries.

This year’s contest will highlight the role that ROVs play in the installation, operation, and maintenance of ocean observing systems, which are collections of high-tech instruments above and below the waves that provide around-the-clock information about what is happening in the ocean.

Via fiber optic cable, the data collection equipment continuously communicates information to scientists, engineers and technicians who use it to understand and make predictions about the ocean, coast and ocean resources. Ocean observing systems provide critical information on climate change, toxic algal blooms, tsunamis and other ocean hazards.

Teams participating in the Oregon Regional MATE ROV competition will perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, piloting their ROV to install a simulated power and communications “hub” and scientific instruments in order to complete a seafloor ocean observatory. They will also remove biofouling organisms from instruments and perform maintenance on moorings, among other tasks.

The competition also encourages students to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and form companies that design, manufacture, market, and sell specialized products and services for shipwreck assessment and remediation. This requires them to solve problems in new and innovative ways, think creatively, work as part of a team, and understand all aspects of business operations—important 21st century skills that will make them competitive in today’s global workplace.

Teams from Albany, Astoria, Corbett, Corvallis, The Dalles, Eddyville, Lincoln City, Salem, Toledo, Portland and Waldport will participate in the competition. The public is invited to come out for this event and cheer for their local teams.

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV Program is supported by local sponsors, including the Marine Technology Society, the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, Oregon State University’s Pre-College Programs, Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators, the Siletz Tribe Charitable Funds, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Pro-Build, Advanced Research Corporation, and the NOAA Officers Family Association. Local marine technology professionals volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations.

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition is one of 22 regional contests held around the world and managed by the MATE Center. The contest’s winning teams will earn the opportunity to compete in the 12th annual MATE’s international ROV competition, which will be held June 20-22 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington.

For more information, contact Tracy Crews, the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Coordinator at

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