Mackie pupils finish second in annual ROV competition

The Mackie team, Andrew Newlands, Matthew Robertson, Megan Webb, Ciaran Kilpatrick, Koni Watson and Fay Pennington
The Mackie team, Andrew Newlands, Matthew Robertson, Megan Webb, Ciaran Kilpatrick, Koni Watson and Fay Pennington
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Pupils from Mackie Academy took the plunge with their underwater robot at Robert Gordon University (RGU) on Thursday, April 2.

The youngsters put the robot they had designed and built to the test as part of an annual competition.

Scottish MATE ROV, co-ordinated and hosted by RGU in Aberdeen, saw nine school teams from around the country face off as they put their robots through a series of underwater missions, for a place in the international final.

A team of students from RGU also demonstrated the capabilities of their robot on the day.

Peterhead Academy came out on top, after a panel of industry experts scored the teams on how well they completed the missions, as well as taking into consideration the technical reports, poster displays, and engineering presentations the pupils were required to produce.

Mackie came second, with Robert Gordon’s College in third, while Banff Academy took the prize for ‘engineering elegance’. Bucksburn Academy was awarded the prize for best poster and Menzieshill High School, from Dundee, picked up the teamwork award.

The major STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) initiative aims to inspire future engineers through hands-on experience of designing remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) used underwater in the oil and gas, defence, oceanology and marine renewables industries.

It is one of 24 regional heats held around the world by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Centre in California and will see the winning school and university teams travel to compete in this year’s international final, which will be held at The Marine Institute, St John’s, Newfoundland in Canada in June.

S6 pupil Matthew Robertson, who led the Mackie team, said they had improved from last year and worked on problems they encountered

He said: “We definitely did better this year. We discovered some problems with the ROV last year, so we spent time working on those.

“I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and have liked working on the problem-solving aspects of the ROV.”

S5 pupil Ciaran Kilpatrick, who was also a part of the team, added: “The competition is a good way to meet new people and to learn new skills.”

Senior RGU electrical engineering lecturer and competition coordinator, Graeme Dunbar, said he was delighted to see the ‘quality’ work that pupils have produced over the past couple of years

He added: “It was a very successful day and the judges were really impressed with the skills that the pupils demonstrated.

“For some of those involved, it is the second or third year that they have been part of the competition and it is fantastic to see the development in the quality of the ROVs coming through, as well as the supplementary reports and presentations.

“We are extremely grateful this year to have Subsea UK, Fugro and ROVOP come on board as sponsors alongside BP which has provided vital support to the competition since its launch in 2008 and DOF Subsea who provide us with the underwater cameras required.

“Without their support, we would not be able to make the competition happen.”

To date, Scottish MATE ROV has worked with 460 pupils from 29 schools over the past eight years.

Tim Smith, vice-president communications & external affairs for BP North Sea, said: “We are delighted to once again support RGU with this exciting initiative which offers school pupils a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the oil and gas industry and some of the technology we use.”

Subsea UK chief executive, Neil Gordon, said: “MATE ROV has captured the imagination of school pupils and subsea business alike since it was first run in Scotland in 2008 and we are delighted to help safe-guard this valuable programme and give budding young engineers a real taste of the subsea industry.

“The subsea industry must have a pipeline of engineers for the next generation and MATE ROV has proved that it engages pupils with industry in a compelling way.”

For further information, please visit www.marinetech.org/rov_competition/