JOHNSON CITY – (August 4, 2021) The annual MATE ROV Competition World Championship is Aug. 5-7 at East Tennessee State University. Some of the brightest minds from around the globe will compete with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) they designed and built both in-person and through telepresence.
After the 2020 competition was cancelled due to COVID-19, this year’s championship has been reimagined to include an in-person event on the ETSU campus, a telepresence competition requiring video submissions of ROVs performing tasks and virtual presentations, and a MATE Virtual Reality World. In-person underwater challenges will take place at the ETSU Basler Center for Physical Activity pool. Challenges will be livestreamed on Twitch and will also be available for public viewing on the 32-foot Esports Video Wall inside the D.P. Culp Student Center.
“Each year we challenge students to be innovative and entrepreneurial,” said Jill Zande, president and executive director of MATE Inspiration for Innovation (MATE II) and one of the founders of the competition. “This year, we’re certainly challenging ourselves to be the same. We have upped our game with this foray into VR. No other robotics competition is doing what we are doing this year.”
Students Gavin Bentley, Quintin Folkner and McKenzie Templeton will represent ETSU’s inaugural team in the championship.
“It’s a huge opportunity to even compete, and being the first ETSU team is a huge honor,” said Bentley, an international affairs sophomore at the university. “We’re very excited to be not just competing at the world championships, but also to be the host team of this year's event. The continuous troubleshooting, the experience and the professionalism that arises between the teams – we’re ready to compete with students from across the globe.”
Students on the ETSU championship team will coordinate the 2022 regional MATE ROV Competition for the Appalachian Highlands.
“Not only is this team representing ETSU and the region, but they’re also coordinating future ROV events and growing a STEM presence,” said Dennis Courtney, ETSU team coach and STREAMWORKS director. “They’re trailblazing. They’re doing amazing things that no one else in the state is doing, and the future growth of underwater robotics in our region is exciting.”
Other local teams competing this year include Milligan University, Dobyns-Bennett High School, D-B EXCEL and Tennessee High School.
The MATE ROV Competition challenges students from K-12, community colleges and universities to apply math, electronics, engineering and physics toward solving problems based on real-world workplace scenarios. The 2021 competition theme is “Excite, Educate, Empower: Students Engineering Solutions to Global Problems.” Participants have been challenged to tackle real obstacles that impact the global community, including plastic pollution clogging oceans and waterways as well as climate change altering ocean temperatures and adversely affecting coral reefs.
“Hosting the MATE ROV Competition World Championship in our region is a tremendous opportunity,” said David Golden, ETSU Research Corporation chief executive officer and chairman for MATE II. “Problems surrounding water systems, marine debris, and climate change affect us all in some way, and these students are learning problem-solving and other skills that will help enable them to develop modern solutions. We are grateful to help bring the world to our region and allow us to showcase and amplify the world-class STEM education and innovation taking place in the Appalachian Highlands.”
Students also must organize themselves into mock companies, encouraging them to develop entrepreneurial thinking and business and project management skills while spurring innovation and collaboration to produce and compete with ROVs.
More companies and corporations are taking environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into consideration when making business decisions, from responding to climate change and treatment of employees to whether they have a corporate culture that builds trust and encourages innovation. Students preparing for the working world should be aware of and prepared to do the same. This year’s competition theme is helping them better understand ESG factors while putting them into practice by engineering their ROVs to address global issues.
For the in-person event, visit materovcompetition.org/worldchampinfo. Watch the competition livestream at www.twitch.tv/mateinspires1 and find more information on the VR World at ncatech.org/mate-virtual/.
About the MATE ROV Competition
Established with funding from the National Science Foundation at Monterey Peninsula College in 1997, the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center worked with the Marine Technology Society’s ROV Committee to create the MATE ROV Competition. The first event kicked off in 2001. Fifteen years later, MATE Inspiration for Innovation (MATE II) incorporated in the state of California as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2016. MATE II was founded to support and sustain ongoing education activities initiated at the MATE Center. To learn more, visit https://www.marinetech.org/rov-competition/.