By Jacqueline Laverdure
On Saturday, May 21, 2022, ten student teams from Forks Intermediate School, Lake Quinault High School, Quileute Tribal School, and Port Townsend Ocean School met at the Forks Athletic and Aquatic Club to compete at the Olympic Coast MATE ROV Competition. This year, the all-girls team from Forks, the Roxy Rovers, took first place in Scout class while the Axolotls from Lake Quinault took first place in the Navigator class. Second place awards went to Water Novas (Forks) for Scout class and Seawolf Solutions (Quileute) for Navigator class, and third place went to Squid Squad (Forks) for Scout class and Bronze Whalers (Lake Quinault) for Navigator class.
This event encourages students from the Olympic Peninsula to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills as they develop underwater robots – also known as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) – to complete missions based on real-world issues and events.
The competition theme and missions change each year. This year’s contests were highlighting the role ROVs play in support of alternative energy, aquaculture and blue carbon and Antarctica research. Through this competition, students are tasked with completing product demonstrations in the pool with their robot, as well as creating a team company and working together to manufacture, market and sell their products.
This simulated company approach promotes the development of entrepreneurship and leadership skills as students manage their project and budget, prepare marketing displays and deliver engineering presentations, which will be necessary in future careers.
Following the day-long competition, an awards ceremony was held to acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments of the student teams. Teams compete in one of two competing classes, Scout or Navigator.
MATE Olympic Coast ROV Competition is supported by local sponsors, including NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, North Pacific Coast Marine Resource Committee, and Surfrider Foundation Olympic Peninsula Chapter. Local professionals and community members volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the student’ ROVs, marketing poster displays, and engineering presentations.
The MATE Olympic Coast ROV Competition is one of more than 36 regional contests held around the world and managed by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center and MATE for Inspiration and Innovation (MATE II).