What if WKCAC could help prevent the world’s next offshore oil spill disaster?

Students maneuving their ROVs at WKCAC

This past weekend, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center (WKCAC) hosted a very different type of competition. WKCAC was transformed from a premier swimming and diving facility to a hub of underwater robotics activity for the annual Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition, organized by the Marine Advance Technology Education (MATE) Center.

More than 35 teams from around the greater Puget Sound region participated in this year’s competition, which featured the theme of the role of ROVs in the offshore oil and gas industry. Focusing on the real-world challenges posed by last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, teams were asked to perform a series of tasks with their ROVs, such as removing damaged pipes, capping wellheads, and collecting water samples.

Congratulations to Team Endeavor from SeaTech 4-H Club/Skagit Valley 4-H, which won in the ‘Explorer’ class and will continue on to the international competition in Houston in June. The day’s other big winner was Team Typhoon, a homeschool team from Seattle, which won in the ‘Scout’ class.

Poster presentation from the winning team

An international competition, the MATE Center’s ROV challenge involves student teams from elementary, middle and high schools, community and technical colleges, four-year universities, and youth-oriented organizations such as 4-H clubs and Boys and Girls Clubs. Student teams are required to perform several tasks and then write a technical report and give presentations about their ROV and their performance. The goal of the competition is help students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills and to expose students to a variety of career opportunities.

For more information about ROVs and the MATE Center, visit http://materover.org.

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