Mt. Olive Students Compete In International Underwater Robotics Competition

By Bethany Zorn
Mt. Olive High School (MOHS) students traveled to Federal Way, Washington last month to compete in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) International Competition.
The Mt. Olive MATE team competed in various underwater robotics tasks and was required to market and pitch their very own product as part of the competition.
The team received an overall ranking of 15 th and was awarded the “Aloha Team Spirit Award.”
Among the team members are four seniors, Garrison Case, Damon Johnson, Erin Perry, and Katie Weatherwax, who chose to forgo their high school graduation ceremony to attend the international competition.
At first I was hesitant to miss graduation, but once I broke it down the answer became easy,” said MOHS Senior Damon Johnson. “I could either go to a ceremony, although very memorable, to receive the diploma I was already going to get, or help represent Mt. Olive with a team I’ve come to consider family in just six months time.
I’m glad I made the decision I had.”
Johnson explained that the MATE league creates a synthetic market gap and calls upon companies to fill that gap, making the team operate more like a real company.
“Our company name is Loggerhead ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), named after the Loggerhead sea turtle,” said Johnson. “Every year we adopt a turtle in a rehabilitation center and name that year’s ROV after the turtle. This year’s ROV is named Tammy.”
Loggerhead ROV, led by David Bodmer, a teacher at MOHS, is comprised of students and mentors who are excited about marine technology, innovation, engineering, and environmental protection.
I am extremely proud of our students’ performance and professionalism throughout the competition,” said Bodmer. “Today’s students are inheriting some very serious problems and we need innovators and problem solvers willing to tackle them. The MATE program offers our students the opportunity to develop their
technical, marketing, and business skills and then apply them to real world problems.”
Bodmer explained that the MATE competition required the team to model itself as a company and provide technical documentation, as well as a presentation in marketing, engineering and company safety & corporate responsibility.

The Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington issued a request for proposals for an ROV and crew that can operate in the salt and fresh water areas in the Pacific Northwest. The team’s tasks for the ROV and operators included locating the wreckage of a vintage airplane and returning its engine to the surface, installing
or recovering a seismometer, and installing a tidal turbine and instrumentation to monitor the ocean environment.
Loggerhead ROV received its design challenge back in November and had to design and build their ROV for the Regional Competition in May held at Villanova University. The team finished in the top three which qualified them for the international competition.
Students were able to prepare for the competition throughout the year by taking advantage of the facilities provided by MOHS such as 3D printers for quick designs, and a new test tank.
“I can say with confidence that my trip with our team was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Johnson. “From sharing our pit tent with a team from Egypt, to meeting teams from all around the globe, this was an experience that I’ll never forget.”
To learn more about Mt. Olive’s marine technology development program, visit the team’s website and the MATE Program

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