Local teams compete at ROV competition

News Photos by Jordan Spence TOP: Even elementary school teams were able to compete in the Great Lakes Regional MATE ROV competition, Saturday at Alpena News. BOTTOM: A member of the Hur-On the Bottom ROV (Alpena Junior High) team removes marine debris the ROV collected during competition.

ALPENA — The Hur-on The Bottom ROV team practiced a lot this year and they think it paid off.

“We did very, very well,” said team CEO 11-year-old Colt Gray. “Yesterday we practiced for three hours.”

The team is one of 14 from different schools that competed in the Great Lakes Regional MATE ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) competition — sponsored by Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary — Saturday at Alpena High School. The team consists of Gray, Sam and Jack Cook, Clayton Thomson, Austin Townsend, and Nick Jones, all 12 years old.

Everyone on Hur-on The Bottom has been on the team for either two or four years. They all plan to continue in high school. They said it’s fun because there is a lot of problem solving and strategy involved. One of the problems the team had to solve involved a small part for their ROV.

Jack said they couldn’t keep their actuator (a small motor) in place. Because of this, their claw used to grab debris couldn’t open and close. So, the team designed a part to fit the actuator, once it was designed, the part was 3-D printed. Team mentor Katie Thomson said she loves to help the team.

“I find it to be rewarding,” she said. “To watch them think outside the box. They got on Tinker CAD (a kid’s computer design program) designed and printed out the part they needed. I find that extremely fascinating.”

Katie said last year the team came in second place and they hope to receive first this year.

This year was the first the Immanuel Lutheran team, ILS ROV, worked together.

Caleb Worm, 12; Andrew Dargis, 13 and John Short, 11 said the work goes by faster when they do it as a team.

“We all have different strengths and weaknesses,” Worm said.

Sanctuary Media Coordinator Stephanie Gandulla said the students were divided by age into elementary, middle school and high school groups. She said there were three ways the teams were judged: The marketing presentation, product demonstration and product execution.

Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative Coordinator Meaghan Gass said the ROVs had a couple missions in which they could compete.

“They have two tries at their mission. They are timed at 15 minutes each,” Gass said. “The first is to figure out what works and what doesn’t.” Then the second trial is judged and scored for points.

Gass said there are four different categories they are judged on and they include, construction of a hyper-loop, risk mitigation, light and water show maintenance and environmental cleanup. Gass said it’s a fun day for everyone involved.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.

ROV Winners:

First Place: Ranger Class: Stockbridge Gold from Stockbridge High School, Stockbridge, Michigan

First Place: Navigator Class: Hur-on the Bottom from Thunder Bay Junior High, Alpena, Michigan

First Place: Scout Class: Alcona 4-H ROV Club from Harrisville, Michigan

Many other students were recognized for achievements in marketing, product design, and engineering innovation.