Young subsea engineers inspired to design underwater robots

Published:  17 February, 2016

Subsea UK will sponsor an initiative which inspires budding subsea engineers for a second year. The body which represents the £9bn subsea industry has now committed £20,000 to the Scottish MATE ROV competition.

The initiative, organised by the Robert Gordon University, encourages young engineers to design and test underwater machinery with help from industry mentors.

Subsea UK joins BP, which has supported the competition since its first year, as headline sponsors, with ROVOP and The Underwater Centre in Fort William providing additional support.

The major STEM initiative aims to inspire future engineers through hands-on experience of designing remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) used underwater in the oil and gas, defence, oceanology and marine renewables industries.

Last year’s competition was won by a team from Peterhead Academy who, along with runners up from Mackie Academy, displayed their winning remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to thousands of delegates at the recent Subsea Expo 2016.

Blair Paton, principal teacher, Faculty of Technologies, at Mackie Academy, said: “The value of extra-curricular work, particularly in engineering, should not be underestimated. The MATE ROV project allows students the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, and apply them to a real life problem, giving a real insight into the world of subsea engineering and technology. The pupils have also benefited from the opportunity to present their design to subsea engineers at Subsea Expo.”

Subsea UK chief executive, Neil Gordon, added: “With all the recent bad news about the oil and gas industry, it is more important than ever to continue to inspire young people about our sector. Initiatives like MATE ROV are dynamic and practical ways of attracting young people into engineering and the exciting world under the sea.

“We were blown away by the creativity and ingenuity of all of last year’s participants, and in particular the teams from Peterhead and Mackie Academy, who have been impressing some veteran engineers with their approaches to designing ROVs at the exhibition today.”

The annual event, which is co-ordinated by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Centre in California in partnership with Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU), involves teams made up of pupils from schools across Scotland.

RGU engineering lecturer and competition co-ordinator, Graeme Dunbar, said: “We are delighted that Subsea UK is continuing its support of the competition again this year. Without Subsea UK, BP and our other sponsors, we would not be able to run the initiative, meaning many young people across Scotland would miss out on a unique opportunity to see what engineering is all about.”

Tim Smith, vice president communications & external affairs for BP North Sea, added: “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.”

MATE’s international student underwater robotics (remotely operated vehicle or ROV) competition consists of an international event and a network of 28 regional contests that take place across the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Scotland, Egypt, Russia, and Turkey. The competition consists of four different classes that vary depending on the sophistication of the ROVs and the mission requirements.

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