MATE II ROV New England Regionals

I was very impressed by students’ abilities to complete the challenges without looking at the pool, all using ROVs that they designed and built themselves.

MATE ROV Competition teams are designed to simulate real-world ROV companies. Each team has different roles, such as Chief Financial Officer (the person responsible for managing the team’s budget) or Gripper Pilot (the person who controls the ROV’s claw-like attachments). During the competition, students work all by themselves. Coaches are not allowed to help them–or even stand nearby– during the competition. I saw many coaches in the stands that really wanted to help their students by yelling a helpful tip during the competition, but they were not allowed to do so.

Because students are not helped by their coaches, they have to work creatively and independently. I learned that the biggest key to success in these competitions is teamwork. Students have to work together under pressure. They each have different skills: some are experts in coding and are great at math, others are skilled at building and repairing, and some are excellent at devising creative solutions. With robotics, things almost always go wrong. This is true not just at robotics competitions, but also in the real world! The Endurance22 Expedition sub-sea team was constantly coming up with creative solutions to keep the mission moving forward. Things often go wrong, but the decisive factor is how you react and solve the problem.

I was amazed to witness how much students have learned by participating in this competition. One student named Gabe explained to me how his team, the HMS SeaBots, were able to devise a balloon system to give their ROV the correct level of buoyancy.