The Sea Lab’s Discovery Hall Programs wrapped up its 7th annual Northern Gulf Coast Regional MATE ROV Competition with the awards ceremony. The 27 teams competing with their custom-built remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) represent six states: Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, and Louisiana. The competition is a part of the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) network of 37 regional competitions held worldwide. 

The MATE ROV competition uses underwater robotics to inspire and challenge students to learn and creatively apply scientific, engineering, and technical skills to solving real-world problems.  The students competing create an engineering company that designs, builds and uses underwater robots to carry out specified missions. 

The MATE theme for 2019 is Innovations for Inshore: ROV Operations in Rivers, Lakes, and Dams which highlights the role ROVs play in addressing problems in freshwater rivers, lakes, and dams. The missions created by MATE include inspecting and repairing a dam, maintaining healthy waterways, and preserving history by locating and recovering a Civil War-era cannon.  The missions’ difficulty changes with the ROV competition category: Scout, Ranger, or Navigator. In addition to the ROV missions, the Navigator and Ranger teams presented their ROV company’s design plans and implementation procedures to a panel of engineers and their fellow competitors.  

Aquatic Robotics of Design Vision from Lafayette, Louisiana placed first in the Ranger category, which earned them a chance to compete at the International MATE ROV Competition in June.

Aquatic Robotics of Design Vision from Lafayette, Louisiana performed strongly and placed first in the Ranger category to earn a chance to compete in the International MATE ROV Competition to be held at the Kingsport Aquatic Center in Kingsport, Tennessee in June. Ursa Apex Robotics of Cottonwood, Alabama placed second in the Ranger category and InnovOcean of Carrollton, Georgia placed third. 

In the Navigator class competition, Tiger Shark Robotics of the STEM Academy from Clanton, Alabama took top honors. Walker High School’s New Wave Robotics from Walker, Alabama placed second with Donnie Bickham Middle School’s Under Pressure, Inc. from Shreveport, Louisiana placing third. 

Pius Salvage of St. Pius X in Mobile, Alabama placed first in the Scout class competition. David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy’s Hydrobotics, Inc. from Lafayette, Louisiana placed second and the Water Warriors from the Underwater ROV Club (SCHEF) in Slidell, Louisiana rounded out the top three. 

Two teams received recognition for their teamwork in facing hardship and overcoming obstacles during the competition. The junior level Buoyancy Award went to the Water Warriors from the Underwater ROV Club (SCHEF) in Slidell, Louisiana. The senior-level Buoyancy award went to the River City Robotics Ranger team from River City Early College in Vicksburg, Mississippi for rising to the top when faced with adversity. 

Robofishes from Mississippi Robotics in Pinola, Mississippi received the Tethered Together team for their exceptional teamwork when faced with trouble. 

The Emerging Stars Award recognized the potential for a bright future in the BRIS Sea Force of Baton Rouge International School from Louisiana. 

All of the teams voted on their favorite Scout poster presentation. The People’s Choice award went to Crubotics from Pensacola Catholic High School. 

To learn more about the ROV programs offered by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Discovery Hall Programs visit