Sunday, April 14, 2024

Local students are being challenged, and the task is monumental – real-world, ocean issues

NORFOLK — The Mid-Atlantic Regional ROV Underwater Robotics Competition has issued a challenge to local students: Design and build an underwater robot.

Specifically, one that can find the wreckage of an airplane, install equipment to monitor earthquakes and complete a renewable energy project, all of which will be simulated at the Old Dominion University Recreation and Wellness Center at 4700 Powhatan Ave. on Saturday, April 21, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

An annual event, the Mid-Atlantic Regional ROV Underwater Robotics Competition encourages students from Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina to learn and apply science, technology, engineering, and math skills with underwater robots — also known as remotely operated vehicles or ROVs — created to complete missions based on real world issues and events, according to a news release from Nauticus/Battleship Wisconsin.

The competition is one of 31 regional contests held around the world and managed by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center. Winning teams earn a chance to compete in MATE’s 18th annual international ROV competition on June 21-23 in Seattle.

Competition themes and missions change each year. Because the international competition will take place near Seattle, this year’s contest will highlight the role ROVs play in the Pacific Northwest, supporting activities that deal with archaeology, seismology and renewable energy, the news release indicated.

Through the competition scenario, students are being exposed to the region’s mountains and rivers crafted from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, its discovery boom in renewable energy and its rich aviation history, the reason Seattle is often referred to as “Jet City.”

Local marine technology professionals volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays and engineering presentations. Local sponsors include MATE, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and Marine Technology Society- Hampton Roads Chapter.

Students also are being exposed to business practices as they are tasked with creating mock companies and work together to “manufacture, market and sell” their products.

That simulated company approach promotes the development of entrepreneurship and leadership skills as students manage a project and budget, brainstorm solutions, prepare reports and poster displays, and deliver presentations, all necessary skills in their future careers, organizers said.

The following groups are participating in this year’s competition:

  • Cape Henry Collegiate School (Virginia Beach);
  • Granby High School (Norfolk);
  • Norfolk Technical Center (Norfolk);
  • Christ the King Catholic School (Norfolk);
  • Academy for Discovery at Lakewood (Norfolk);
  • Maury High School (Norfolk);
  • Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast (Chesapeake);
  • Engineering & Technology Explorer Post 1882 (Bristow);
  • Tech Wave Homeschool Group (Chesapeake);
  • Chesapeake Bay Governors School (Tappahannock);
  • Cape Henlopen High School (Lewes, Del.);
  • First Flight High School ROV (Kill Devil Hills, N.C.).

The public is invited to attend the competition. For information, contact Susie Hill at 757-664-1041 or Rebecca.hill@norfolk.gov.

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