By Mebin Skaria
On June 22, 2013, Aptos High’s Team “Aptos Mariner Robotics” won the 12th Annual MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) International ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) Ranger Class (High School) competition.
MATE has been hosting competitions since 2001 at regional locations, such as Hawaii, Hong Kong, Egypt, and our own Monterey Bay. Each year MATE creates a realistic theme for the competition. In 2013, MATE decided on setting up an underwater observatory and maintaining it as the theme. In 2013’s competition, Aptos Mariner Robotics first had to compete in the Regional Division, against 11 other Teams.
But even with an impressive array of opponents, Aptos Mariner Robotics Took First and moved on to the International Division which took place at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way, Washington just outside of Seattle.
At the International Division, our Aptos Mariner Robotics had to compete against 31 other teams who also had won first in their regional competition. After an arduous contest by every team, Aptos High won first place with a total of 541.3 points, a 30 point lead over second place Heritage Collegiate with a score of 511.8. Third place went to Greater New Bedford Voc Tech with 511.7.
What are the team members up to now? Some of them were seniors like Kayla Zaliniak, the Business Coordinator of the team, who currently goes to Cabrillo College. Serena Calcagno, the team Secretary, now is attending St. Olaf College in Minnesota (ranked #52 nationally in Liberal Arts). Bailey DaCosta, Vice President of the team, now is at Cal Tech (ranked #10 nationally for Universities).
What are the missions like this year? According to Chris Randolph (Current President of the ROV Club and CEO of the Ranger Team), “The missions are based on the role that ROVs play in exploring and documenting shipwrecks, studying sinkholes, and conserving our national maritime heritage sights. We will have to study the shipwreck, identify it, and engage in scientific inquiries into the general area.”
When asked about this year’s ROV Randolph said, “The design differences we expect will be shrinking the ROV down, so it is capable of fitting and moving around in a confined space, rather than having fine control over multiple objects.” This is because the ranger team will have to do the mission actually inside a “ship wreck” which is covered with shade cloth to recreate the deep dark ocean.
Even though there are many difficult tasks this year such as measuring the conductivity of the groundwater, and deploying a sensor, Randolph, believes the biggest challenge will working inside the shipwreck because of the confined space and the difficulty in controlling the ROV’s tether and keeping it from tangling (The tether holds all the wires necessary to power and control the ROV).
The Monterey Bay Regional ROV Contest takes place on Saturday, May 3, 2014 and the international competition will take place June 26-28 at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Michigan, USA.
It looks like the Ranger Team is getting ready and developing some new technology and techniques for their ROV. Good luck Aptos Mariner Robotics.