Mintlaw Academy Wins Scottish Heat of International ROV Competition

Mintlaw Academy has won the Scottish regional heat of the 2016 MATE international ROV (remotely operated vehicle) competition and booked its place in the final of the event.  

The Scottish leg of the challenge, co-ordinated and hosted by Robert Gordon University (RGU), saw 11 schools put underwater robots that they had designed and built to the test on March 31 at RGU’s Sir Ian Wood Building.

After a panel of industry experts scored the teams on how well they completed the missions, as well as taking into consideration the technical reports, poster displays, and engineering presentations the pupils were required to produce, the Mintlaw Academy emerged victorious. This win marked the third time the school has won the competition. Robert Gordon’s College placed second, with Banff Academy in third, while Keith Grammar School took the technical prize. Portlethen Academy was awarded the Encouragement for Future Development award and Craigmount High School, from Edinburgh, picked up the teamwork award.

The major STEM initiative aims to inspire future engineers through hands-on experience of designing ROVs used underwater in the oil and gas, defence, oceanology and marine renewables industries. BP North Sea has been a major sponsor of the Scottish regional competition since its launch in 2008, with Subsea UK joining the company as headline sponsor for the second year. Additional funding is provided by ROVOP and The Underwater Centre in Fort William.

The RGU event is one of 24 regional heats held around the world by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Centre in California. Winning teams from around the world will travel to compete in this year’s international final which will be held at the NASA Johnson Space Centre's Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas in June. 

Joanne McDonald, team leader of the Mintlaw Academy team, said in an RGU statement:

"It’s amazing, it’s taking a bit of time to sink in. As the prizes were being announced we started to think that we hadn’t even placed so we are all so surprised. All our hard work has paid off. We’re going to Houston!

“The competition has been great – it has been good working as a team and getting a taste of real life engineering. There’s a few new members on the team this year and I’m really pleased with how everything has come together.”

Ali Hynd, technical teacher at Mintlaw Academy, said in a team release:

"It is totally unexpected. The ROV actually broke as they were putting it in the pool so there was a question mark over whether it was going to happen at all but I’m over the moon for the kids – it is all their hard work.”

Senior RGU electrical engineering lecturer and competition co-ordinator, Graeme Dunbar, said in an RGU statement:

“The competition went extremely well, it has been a brilliant day. The pupils have obviously done a lot of hard work to get to this stage and it is great to see the standards continuing to improve year on year.

“It has been good to welcome some new teams to the competition this year and good to see a real mix of ages from the schools. Congratulations to the Mintlaw Academy team who are very deserving winners and to all who took part.”

Tim Smith, Vice President Communications & External Affairs for BP North Sea, said in a company statement:

“The ROV design competition has become a real highlight in the engineering calendar and BP is delighted to once again support RGU with this excellent initiative. The MATE ROV challenge offers pupils a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the oil and gas industry and supports BP’s strategy to develop capability and talent in the STEM subjects.”

Subsea UK Chief Executive, Neil Gordon, said in a company release:

“The MATE ROV competition is a great way to inspire the next generation and expose them to the subsea industry through realistic, hands-on experience. Despite the current challenges, we must take a long term approach to skills and work hard to engage with those who will drive our sector forward in years to come.

“If we don’t continue to attract, train and develop young people, we will not have the talent required to support the future of one of the world’s most important industries.”

ROVOP Chief Executive Steven Gray said in a company statement:

“The MATE ROV competition is a valuable and fun initiative for both participating students and companies, like ROVOP, who support the program. The development of our personnel and investment in future talent is vital to our strategy to sustain and grow our business. 

“Later this year we intend to recruit our second graduate, who will undertake a two year placement program. Our involvement in schemes like MATE ROV provides us with an excellent opportunity to meet future industry talent.”

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