Students from all over the world – and their underwater robots – are set to converge on St. John’s, N.L., from June 25-27 to compete in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center’s International Student Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition.

Hosted by the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University (MI) and the National Research Council’s (NRC) Ocean, Coastal, and River Engineering (OCRE) facility, the contest requires teams of students to design, build and operate an underwater robot, known as a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV.

An annual event that began in 2002, the MATE competition encourages students from all over the world to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills as they develop ROVs to complete underwater missions that simulate challenges present in marine environments. The competition theme changes every year. This year’s event highlights the role of ROVs in scientific research and the offshore oil industry in the extreme environment of the Arctic Ocean.

Like scientists who work in polar conditions, students will pilot their ROVs under a layer of ice where they will count and sample organisms, deploy scientific instruments and collect iceberg data. They will also use their ROVs to complete tasks related to the offshore oil industry, such as inspecting pipelines and testing deep-sea oilfield equipment, while they battle currents, waves and wind.

This year’s complex mission tasks are made possible by the unique features and capabilities of MI, Canada’s most comprehensive centre for education, training, applied research and industrial support for the ocean industries and one of the most respected centres of marine learning and applied research in the world, and NRC, Canada’s premier technology and research organization supporting industry with consulting and applied research services in ocean engineering, coastal engineering, water resources management, marine safety and marine renewable energy assessments, and technology. The host facilities include the following:

  • The largest flume tank in the world, with a water capacity of 1.7 million litres, and water velocity ranging from 0-1 meters per second.
  • An engineering basin that is used to evaluate the performance of ships and structures by testing scale models in various sea states by simulating waves, wind and currents.
  • An ice tank where the water surface can be frozen and the air temperature maintained at a uniform -30 to 15 C used to test the performance of ships and structures in extreme Arctic environments. 

The MATE competition also challenges students to think like entrepreneurs. Students must transform their teams into companies, and respond to a fictional request for proposals for an ROV that can tackle the real-world underwater missions. The student-run companies must also create and present a technical report and develop a marketing display. These elements are evaluated on the students’ ability to communicate what they learned and how they put their knowledge to use in developing their ROV. During the process of preparing for the event, the students develop teamwork, creative thinking, and problem solving skills – skills that will help them compete in the global workplace.

Earlier this spring, teams earned the opportunity to move on to the international event in St. John’s by participating in one of MATE’s 24 regional contests. Regional contests are held throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as Egypt, Russia, Scotland and Hong Kong.

Five teams from Newfoundland and Labrador will compete at the international competition, including Gonzaga High School, Mount Pearl Senior High School and O’Donel High School in the RANGER class along with Memorial University and Clarenville High School, the 2014 international winners, in the EXPLORER class.

The MATE Center and the Marine Technology Society’s (MTS) ROV Committee organize the ROV competition, which is supported by the MTS ROV Committee, the National Science Foundation and its Office of Polar Programs, Oceaneering International, NASA, NOAA, and other ocean- and science-related organizations.

For more information about the MATE Center, please visit To view the competition streamed live on the Internet from June 25-27, please visit   

View press release on MI’s website here:


Reigning champions Jesuit High School of California took top honours at this year’s Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center’s International Student Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Competition. AMNO & CO ROV of Washington were the winners in the RANGER (high school) class.

Memorial University’s Eastern Edge team took home second prize in EXPLORER with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology coming in third. In RANGER, the Center for Robotics Development of Russia came second with Palos Verdes Institute of Technology from California placing third.

“The competition was a tremendous success thanks to the commitment of our organizing committee, student participants and mentors, and many volunteers,” said Dwight Howse, head of MI’s school of ocean technology. “Not only did participants have the opportunity to learn about science and technology, but they really put their skills to the test by working together to design, build and pilot their ROVs in complex missions designed to simulate real-life tasks.”

This year, the students were challenged to perform tasks in a cold water environment, not unlike that of offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. One task saw the students pilot their ROV under a layer of ice to count and sample organisms, deploy scientific instruments and collect iceberg data. They also inspected pipelines and tested deep-sea oilfield equipment.    

See full press release here: