(April 26, 2019) --

This weekend, The Sea Lab’s Discovery Hall Programs hosts the 7th annual Northern Gulf Coast Regional ROV Competition. The 28 teams competing with their custom-built remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) represent six states: Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, and Louisiana. The competition is part of the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) network of 37 regional competitions held worldwide.

The MATE ROV competition uses underwater robotics to inspire and challenge students to learn and creatively apply scientific, engineering, and technical skills to solving real-world problems.  The students competing create an engineering company that designs, builds and uses underwater robots to carry out specified missions.

The MATE theme for 2019 is Innovations for Inshore: ROV Operations in Rivers, Lakes, and Dams which highlights the role ROVs play in addressing problems in freshwater rivers, lakes, and dams. The missions created by MATE include inspecting and repairing a dam, maintaining healthy waterways, and preserving history by locating and recovering a Civil War-era cannon.  The missions’ difficulty changes with the ROV competition category: Scout, Ranger, or Navigator. The Northern Gulf Coast Regional Competition does not offer the Explorer level competition.

In addition to the ROV missions, the Navigator and Ranger teams deliver a presentation on their ROV design and specifications to a panel of working engineers as well as their peers. DHP is pleased to have Emery Baya, Thompson Engineering; Anil Badve, Anil Badve and Associates, Dr. Stephanie Smallegan, Civil Engineering, University of South Alabama, and Grant Lockridge, Diving Safety Officer, Marine Technical Support, Dauphin Island Sea Lab. 

The competition begins on Friday, April 26, with team check-ins and ROV safety inspections at The Sea Lab campus on Dauphin Island. Saturday, April 27, teams will compete in two rounds of pool missions at Bishop State in downtown Mobile. On Sunday, April 28, team engineering presentations will take place at The Sea Lab with the awards ceremony following. First, second, and third place awards will be presented for each competition class. Some specialty awards are also bestowed for teamwork (Tethered Together) and best comeback (Buoyancy).

For information and videos of previous competitions, check out disl.org/dhp/rov-programs.