Underwater robotics competition gets underway in Kingsport

Rick Wagner • Jun 21, 2019 at 1:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Students from around the world have converged on the Kingsport Aquatic Center and the Tri-Cities this week for the 18th annual Marine Advanced Technology Education International ROV Competition, which is being hosted in the Model City for the first time.

Presented by the Eastman Foundation in partnership with STREAMWORKS Powered by Eastman in Education and Visit Kingsport, the underwater robotics event for ROVs, or remotely operated vehicles, is set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the center and MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center.

Two winners of the  Appalachian Highlands MATE ROV Competition held at the Kingsport Aquatic Center in late April are competing — D-B EXCEL’s R-Mateys and SEAL Robotics of Greensboro, North Carolina.

“It’s clean, Very clean,” said Fadi Sarwat of the Vortex team from Alexandria, Egypt, and made up of students from different schools there.

Kieran Murphy, chief executive officer of the Deep Sea Dundee team from Grover Academy in Scotland, said: “Good foot but super hot.” He said this week’s temperatures in the 70s and 80s were about the hottest it ever got where he lives.

Another international team was the Catholic Secondary School Kwok Tak Seng of Hong Kong, a group that had remnants of Panda Express take out in their outside staging area Thursday afternoon.

From the United States was one of at least two all-girl teams at the competition, H2O Bots from Coconut Creek, Fla., near Boca Raton. Team member Bobbi-Jo Suppelsa, a rising sophomore, said the two-year-old team was at the first ROV regional in Kingsport last year and that back home to prepare“every Saturday we would do 9-to-1 or 9-to-3 and we would work on the robot.”

Over the last year, more than 740 teams competed in regional events across the globe, and 70 of those teams advanced to the international competition.

Dennis Courtney said the 872 students are accompanied by mentors and coaches for a total of about 1,500 people, who he said were staying in hotels and motels in Kingpsort, Bristol and Johnson City and at least one team in a private home.

The D-B EXCEL team will do its engineering presentation 9:30 a.m. Friday and its competition at 1:30 p.m. that day. An awards ceremony will be around noon Saturday.

To learn more, go online to www.marinetech.org/rov-competition/.

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