The engineers of the future will go head to head at Robert Gordon University this week (Wednesday April 25) when they put underwater robots, which they have designed and built, to the test as part of an annual competition.

The Scottish MATE ROV competition, co-ordinated and hosted by RGU, will see 10 school teams from around the country face off as they put their robots through a series of underwater missions for a place in the international final. This year, the pupils are responding to a task based around aircraft, earthquake and energy and will have to create an ROV which can operate in the salt and fresh water areas in the Pacific Northwest.

The specific tasks for the 2018 challenge include – locating the wreckage of a vintage airplane and returning its engine to the surface; installing or recovering a seismometer; and installing a tidal turbine and instrumentation to monitor the environment.

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.

It is one of 30 regional heats held around the world by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Centre in California and will see the winning school team travel to compete in this year’s international final which will be held at Weyerhauser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington.

RGU engineering lecturer and competition co-ordinator, Graeme Dunbar, said: “We are very much looking forward to this year’s competition and can’t wait to see how the students have responded to the brief set out by MATE.

“The event is always a huge amount of fun and we are extremely grateful to all of our sponsors for their continued support.

“The experience the pupils gain from the competition is invaluable and the support from our industry mentors provides them with such great insight into engineering and general business principles.”

The MATE competition requires students to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and transform their teams into companies that manufacture, market, and sell ‘products’.

In addition to engineering their ROVs, the students are required to prepare technical reports, poster displays, and engineering presentations that are delivered to working professionals who serve as competition judges.

BP North Sea has been a major sponsor of the competition since its launch and Subsea UK and ROVOP have again continued their support of the competition. Hamlyns Oats has signed up as a new sponsor for 2018.

Tim Smith, Vice President Communications & External Affairs for BP North Sea, said: “The ROV design competition remains a real highlight in the Aberdeen engineering calendar and BP is delighted to once again support RGU with this excellent initiative. This programme 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.”

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK commented: “Initiatives like this ensure the next generation understand the opportunities available to them and the exciting careers that the subsea sector can offer, for many years to come.

“It’s vital that we continue to work closely with schools, colleges and universities to attract and retain future talent. We want to give young people an exciting glimpse of where a career in subsea could lead them, and ignite a real passion for engineering.”

To date, Scottish MATE ROV has worked with more than 500 pupils from over 40 schools over the past 11 years.

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