ROV Team Swims To Internationals

“Subaquatic Solutions” Goes to Tennesee For Competition

Walking down the science hall during the school year, room 181 is full of the sounds of rotary tools, the sizzling of soldering irons, and lively chatter. Even though classes were not in session, Parker’s very own Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) team continued working through the summer for the international competition. 

Every year, regional contests take place around North America, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Western Pacific. The top teams from each regional competition move on . 

Parker won first place at Shedd Aquarium’s regional competition on June 5 and earned their spot for internationals. This year the international competition was held at East Tennessee State University, from August 5-7. 

The MATE ROV challenge was to build a vehicle able to tackle real world climate problems, such as plastic in the ocean and the impact of poor environmental practices on inland waterways. The robots that did the best would move up to the next competition, and so on. 

To successfully compete, each team must create an engineering presentation and give a live demonstration of their robot completing tasks. Teams are scored by judges on their presentation, engineering, communication, marketing display, and their technical documentation. Their robot does various tasks in a timed pool environment which can give them different points that add to their score and help determine their placement.

Parker’s team, named “Subaquatic Solutions,” consists of students from grades 9-12. Roles within the team include engineers, managers, directors, and builders. Some students have multiple roles such as junior Savanna Maness, who is the Director of Marketing, Tether Management, and the Electrical Engineer.

All the students worked together to create the robot they named “Shelby,” a play on “She’ll be” as the team has mostly young women on it. To build Shelby, they used PVC pipes, bilge pump motors as thrusters, grippers attracted to waterproof servos, a waterproof video camera, and joysticks attached to controllers that control the thruster speed.

While the team didn’t win, they took the opportunity to absorb knowledge from other teams all over the globe. “The competition was a wonderful learning experience,” junior Savanna Maness said. “I think our team has bonded with a lot of the teams we met, including teams from Egypt and Mexico. We’ve also seen a lot of amazing designs we are looking forward to incorporating into next year’s robot.” 

After the competition, students made plans to visit the Dollywood theme park a few hours away, located in Pigeon Forge Tennessee. The day before students came home, they spent the entire day in Dollywood riding roller coasters and go-carts. “Not only did the trip provide endless educational opportunities, but it also allowed the team to bond in deeper ways,” teacher Brianna Ifft said. “When given the decision to split into smaller groups at Dollywood, the students stayed together. They don’t see each other as individual members of a team, but rather a cohesive unit that makes decisions–and memories–together.”

Teacher JP Navin was also a trip chaperone. “My favorite part was watching how well the team worked together under pressure,” Navin said. “The team did an excellent job representing Parker and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”