ALPENA, Mich. — A team of high school students from Newfoundland and Labrador was among the winners Saturday in a global robotics competition at the only federal freshwater marine sanctuary in the United States.
The high school and university teams were among 60 from 13 countries participating in the 13th Marine Advanced Technology Education Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) International Competition at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The top three in the intermediate category were Clarenville High School; Cornerstone Academy of Gainesville, Florida; and Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
“It’s just an amazing feeling,” said Claire Sawler, one of the 12 students involved with the Clarenville High School robotics team. “When we heard our names announced, everyone just blew up with excitement, and all the nerves that we had going in just went away and we all felt like gold.”
Fellow team member Patrick Dove told The Telegram Sunday that after performing well in regional events, the students gained confidence and practised hard.
“We were pretty confident going into the internationals, but really it’s a game of chance too,” said Dove, who also gave credit to other teams competing from around the world.
“Every team that made it to the internationals here in Alpena, Mich., put a tremendous amount of effort into their ROVs.”
Teams worked with robots in a large tank while judges evaluated their performance along with engineering and communication. They were also judged on the design and construction of their robots.
Tasks included identifying a simulated shipwreck, collecting microbial samples from a sinkhole, inventorying invasive species and removing trash.
In the case of Clarenville’s own efforts, Sawler said the team tried out some new ideas and techniques in order to push themselves to the top.
Taking first place in the advanced category was a team from Jesuit High School of Carmichael, California. Second- and third-place winners were Bauman Moscow State University of Moscow and Far Eastern Federal University of Vladivostok, Russia.
The sanctuary is among 14 national marine sanctuaries operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was established to preserve and protect the Great Lakes and the roughly 200 shipwrecks found in the area.
The students from Clarenville High School return to Newfoundland and Labrador Monday.
“After hearing from all our parents and families home, it seems like Clarenville is blowing up with excitement over how we competed and the results of what happened,” said Dove.
— Weblink: http://thunderbay.noaa.gov/