Diving In, Winning World Championships
It was August 7, 2021, at the closing event of the 2021 Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) International Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition at Eastern Tennessee State University (ETSU). On stage was the Jesuit Robotics team. They looked around the auditorium and realized that, once again, their high school team had excelled and beaten teams from colleges and universities across the country and internationally. Each year more than 1,000 teams begin their journey to the world championships at regional events held across North America, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Western Pacific. In Tennessee, those winners then come together at ETSU’s aquatic center for the prestigious underwater ROV competition to compete and solve real-world problems with their skills. The 2021 challenge? To design and build a remotely operated vehicle and the necessary sensors and tools to tackle the onslaught of plastics in our ocean, climate change’s impact on coral reefs, and the consequences of poor environmental practices on our inland waterways. ROV’s, tethered remote control submersible robots, are widely used in underwater exploration. Jesuit developed their 2021 ROV, named Nautilus, over seven months in the campus workshop, lab, and aquatic facility to accomplish a series of tasks and challenges which simulate operating the ROV in complex marine environments including rivers and lakes. The students competed as a “company” to inspire entrepreneurial skill development and operated their ROV as a “product demonstration.” Jesuit’s demonstration mirrors real-world engineering experience and includes a 25-page technical design report of their ROV and company. The team also conducted a sales presentation to industry professionals highlighting the features and benefits of the ROV and set up a trade-show marketing display to market their product and company. Their skill in all levels of the competition earned them the overall world championship and all three division awards—Product Demonstration, Marketing Display, and Technical Documentation. They will now be published in the Journal of Ocean Technology, which the Marine Institute of Memorial University publishes. Shortly after capturing the 2021 international MATE ROV Championship, Jesuit Robotics is already moving forward and planning for next year’s competition. They are also exploring beginning a Jesuit Outreach Robotics Team for middle school students.