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Press Release for Wednesday, July 14, 2010

UNF Engineering Graduates Place in International ROV Competition

Joanna Norris, Associate Director

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2102


A team of recent engineering graduates at the University of North Florida won fourth place in the 9th annual MATE International Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Competition and brought home the Design Elegance Award for the vehicle that incorporates aesthetics, simplicity and functionality into its design. This was the first time UNF participated in this competition.

The UNF team is comprised of Keith Stilson (team captain), Shane Kennett and Nick Waytowich, all three spring engineering graduates. The competition, organized by MATE and the Marine Technology Society’s ROV Committee, was held June 24 through June 26 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The annual MATE ROV competition is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation and the Marine Technology Society ROV Committee.


The UNF ROV team overcame some big obstacles to place 4th out of 34 competing teams in their class,” said Dr. Pat Welsh, UNF team faculty advisor. “I am very proud of them for their incredible effort and a very professional design.”


The ROV competition is designed to present university, community college, high school and middle school students with the same types of challenges that scientists and engineers face when working underwater. Since 2002, student teams from all over the world have been meeting annually to put their skills in designing, building and piloting ROVs to the test.


ROVs are underwater robots used to support scientific research, the offshore oil and gas and telecommunications industries, underwater archaeology, underwater construction and structural inspections, and port and harbor security.


MATE’s 2010 mission tasks challenged teams to deploy instruments, take sensor readings, plot data and collect samples of geologic features and organisms that inhabit the flanks of a simulated underwater volcano. In addition to the underwater missions, teams had to make oral and written engineering presentations to a panel of judges representing the marine industry.


Each team was evaluated on the design, construction and performance of its ROV; the members’ ability to communicate what they learned; and how they put their knowledge to use in designing and building their ROV.


MATE’s competitions use ROVs to teach technical, engineering, scientific, and critical thinking skills—skills that are in great demand in today’s technical workplace. MATE’s competitions are also important because they help students see themselves in careers where they can apply these skills, a critical step in addressing the shortage of qualified engineers and technical professionals.


Headquartered at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California, the MATE Center is a national partnership of community colleges, universities, high schools, employers, and working professionals whose mission is to improve marine technical education and meet marine workforce needs. Its competition is the first student robotics competition to focus exclusively on ROVs.