Student robotics competition entries will be on display at ODU

A photo from last year's 2018 Mid-Atlantic ROV Competition. (Southside Daily/courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic MATE ROV Competition website)
A photo from last year’s 2018 Mid-Atlantic ROV Competition. (Southside Daily/courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic MATE ROV Competition website)

NORFOLK — The Mid-Atlantic Regional ROV Underwater Robotics Competition is underway, challenging local students to create an underwater robot to ensure public safety, help uphold healthy waterways and preserve historical artifacts.

The students’ robots will be on display in the Old Dominion University Recreation and Wellness Center, 4700 Powhatan Ave., on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 13th annual event, Mid-Atlantic Regional ROV Underwater Robotics Competition encourages students from states of Delaware, Virginia and Maryland and other local areas to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills as they develop underwater robots – also known as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) – to complete missions based on real-world issues and events.

The competition theme and missions change each year, officials said in a news release.

Because the international competition will take place in Kingsport, Tennessee, this year’s contest will highlight the role ROVs play in inland waterways, including where history plays a significant role, officials said.

This part of the country has Civil War artifacts that need careful recovery.

Not only that, manmade structures and the landscape, which includes Boone Dam, the Great Smoky Mountain range and Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Trail, need repair, restoration and preservation, officials said.

Through the competition, students also are being exposed to business practices because they are tasked with creating mock companies and must work together to “manufacture, market and sell” their products, i.e. their ROVs, according to the news release.

The 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, which is necessary in future careers, officials said.

The following local schools are participating in the competition:

  • Landstown High School, Virginia Beach
  • Granby High School, Norfolk
  • Heritage High School, Newport News
  • Norfolk Technical Center, Norfolk
  • Cape Henry Collegiate School, Virginia Beach
  • Ruffner Middle School, Norfolk
  • Norview Middle School, Norfolk
  • James Blair Middle School, Norfolk

The Mid-Atlantic Regional ROV Underwater Robotics Competition is one of 36 regional contests held around the world and managed by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center and MATE for Inspiration and Innovation (MATE II).

The winning teams will earn the opportunity to compete in the 18th annual MATE international ROV competition on June 20-22 at the Kingsport Aquatic Center and MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport, Tennessee.

The public is invited to attend the competition and cheer for their local teams.

For more information, contact Susie Hill, Mid-Atlantic Regional ROV Competition Coordinator, at

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