Portlethen picks up prize in annual ROV competition

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Portlethen Academy has won the Encouragement for Future Development prize during the team’s first outing in an annual competition which sees pupils from across Scotland put underwater robots they have designed and built to the test.

The Scottish leg of the challenge, co-ordinated and hosted by Robert Gordon University (RGU), saw 11 schools put underwater robots they have designed and built to the test at RGU’s Sir Ian Wood Building.

The major STEM 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.

BP North Sea has been a major sponsor of the Scottish regional competition since its launch in 2008, with Subsea UK joining the company as headline sponsor for the second year.

The RGU event 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 team travel to compete in this year’s international final which will be held at the NASA Johnson Space Centre’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas in June.

It was the first time Portlethen Academy has entered a team in the competition, with sixth pupil and team leader Scott Robertson, saying it had been a very positive experience.

He said: “It was very different from what I initially expected – it is very demanding but it has been really good. We had an incident where one of the ROV’s motor blades fell off but I think we did better than we expected.”

Mackie Academy also entered a team in the 2016 competition but didn’t win a prize.

Mackie team captain Koni Watson said she was pleased with how they performed.

“I think we did pretty well as we haven’t had too much time to spend on building the ROV due to other commitments,” she said. “We’ve really enjoyed it. I really like to find out how things work and building something with my own hands from scratch.”

To date, Scottish MATE ROV has worked with 536 pupils from 34 schools over the past nine years.

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