World’s brightest robotics students descend on Kingsport


More than 1,200 college and high school students from around the world gathered at the Kingsport Aquatic Center last week for the 18th MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) International ROV Competition. Seventy teams took part in a multi-tasked competition in which they designed, built and operated robots to perform a series of tasks simulating actions that would be taken by underwater dam repair robots.

Ensuring Public Safety – Dam Inspection and Repair
• Inspect the foundation of the dam
• Identify and count the number cracks
• Gather information about the size of the cracks
• Map the location of the cracks
• Deploy a secondary, micro-ROV from the primary ROV to inspect the inside of a drain pipe for indicators of possible dam failure
• Identify areas of muddy water flow
• Insert grout into voids underneath the dam
• Inspect and repair trash rack
• Remove the damaged screen of the trash rack
• Install a new screen

Maintaining Healthy Waterways
• Monitor water quality
• Measure the water temperature
• Measure the pH of a water sample
• Determine habitat diversity
• Lift a rock from the bottom
• Examine the benthic species underneath rock
• Use a handbook to determine the number and type of benthic species
• Record the date, time, temperature, pH, and species diversity on a data sheet
• Transport and release trout fry
• Restore fish habitat
• Remove degraded rubber tire(s)
• Install new fish/reef ball(s)

Preserving History
• Recover the Civil War era cannon from the floor
• Prior to the competition:  Determine the lift capability of your ROV
• At the competition:  Calculate the amount of force needed to lift the cannon
• Calculate the volume of the cannon
• Determine the composition (specific gravity) of the cannon
• Use the cannon’s casting mark to identify the build location and build date
• Consult a handbook to determine the composition
• Determine if the ROV has enough thrust to lift the cannon
• Return the cannon to the surface, side of pool
• Mark the location of metal cannon shells
• Identify the location of metal cannon shells
• Place markers at the cannon shell locations

The teams’ robots were monitored underwater by a video feed sent by robots operated by the judging team. Dozens of local volunteers acted as judges monitoring the teams’ operations on the surface and as divers, offering assistance if the surface judges called for it and resetting the underwater competition areas between teams.

The event, organized locally by Streamworks, an organization supported by Eastman in Education, was also supported by several local companies and entities, including Milligan College and The Business Journal of Tri-Cities, TN/VA.

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