Young Scots ROV pioneeers set the controls for Jupiter in schools space mission

The 2015 winning Peterhead Academy team
Members of the 2015 winning Peterhead Academy team

Tackling the farthest reaches of an ocean on one of Jupiter’s moons is just one of the missions school pupils from across Scotland will be tackling as part of this year’s MATE Scotland ROV Challenge.

The Scottish leg of the challenge, co-ordinated and hosted by Robert Gordon University will see 12 schools put underwater robots they have designed and built to the test on Thursday (March 31) at the 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.

With NASA and Oceaneering Space Systems (OSS) looking to make use of ROVs which can operate in the harsh environments of both the deep ocean and outer space, this year’s missions are scenarios inspired by inner and outer space.

The Scottsh 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. 

To date, Scottish MATE ROV has worked with 536 pupils from 34 schools over the past nine years, with Peterhead Academy winning the 2015 competition.

Steven Gray, Chief Executive of ROVOP, said: “It is more important than ever to ensure we continue to teach youngsters about the oil and gas industry and show them there continues to be exciting opportunities available in the sector. We are delighted to offer our continued support to the MATE ROV competition which gives a practical insight into underwater technology. 

While most of the schools and youth organisations taking part in the competition (including last year’s winners, Peterhead Academy) are based in Grampian, schools from Dundee and Edinburgh are also among this year’s participants, as follow: –

  • Aberdeen Sea Cadets
  • Alford Academy
  • Banff Academy
  • Craigmount High School, Edinburgh
  • Inverurie Academy
  • Keith Grammar
  • Mackie Academy
  • Menzieshill High School, Dundee
  • Mintlaw Academy
  • Peterhead Academy
  • Portlethen Academy
  • Robert Gordon College

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