LBCC ROV Team Competes at MATE International Competition

Photos courtesy of Greg Mulder

LONGMONT, Colorado — The LBCC ROV team just got back from a week of competing with 11 countries and 26 U.S. states against the entropy of the universe to better understand our place within our universe.  The first week of each summer I usually try to entertain those of us who are still on campus after finals week to tell us about the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center’s Remotely Operated Vehicle International ROV competition that LBCC has been part of since 2008.

This year this is a “delayed broadcast” as, well, I just had the hardest time getting these notes out while in Colorado with the LBCC ROV team.  But over the next few days I’ll try explaining what our team has been up to culminating with how LBCC interacted with and measured up to teams from Purdue, Columbia, Memorial University in Canada, Torino in Italy and many, many more.

Twenty-four college/university teams made it to the international “Explorer” level.  These 24 teams are out of around 200 colleges and universities that at some point in the year attempted to get here, but were not able to rise to the level needed.  There are also six community colleges here at the “Pioneer” level. 

Linn-Benton and other community colleges got a grant from the National Science Foundation that provided mentoring and support for these new six community college teams. We especially adopted Estrella Mountain Community College with several students flying out to Arizona to help them back in November and then providing them with technical and emotional support over the entire year.

Day 0 

The Opening Ceremony is where we all get to meet each other.  It’s always an exciting time to meet everyone.  A state representative, a leader of an environmental organization and the MATE leader and superstar Jill Zande all gave talks to get us started.

The Opening Ceremony was a little more somber than usual as many of the judges had been called out to assist with the search of the OceanGate submersible.  It was pretty clear to this group that the odds of the crew surviving was very low – but many of the people here were the only people who had the skills and experience to perform a search and recovery of this type.

The competition also started this day with teams putting up their mission posters.  I’ve attached a copy of our poster below.  Then the team headed back to the hotel to start putting the ROV back together after transport from Oregon.

Day 1:  Safety Check

Safety is of utmost importance to MATE.  When out at sea on a research vessel, your crewmates and you all rely upon each other for safety.  Thus, the first main part of the competition is to prove to the safety team that your ROV is safe and ready to enter the water.  LBCC passed!  (In the photo of the safety check attached, everyone is looking especially somber — this is due to lack of my ability as a photographic reporter — there was indeed laughs and cheers throughout the safety check)

We celebrated by going for a hike at Rabbit Mountain.  It rained excessive amounts here all throughout the spring and consequently the wildflowers and cacti were in bloom to the max.  It was beautiful.  I’ve attached a photo of the team so you can see who everyone is.

The hike only lasted a couple hours as the team had to get back to the hotel to make sure everything on the ROV was working in top condition.  I’m not sure how long the team will be up, but I am heading to bed now at 11p.m.

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