|MATES TEAM TAKES TOP HONORS IN NASA ROBOT CONTEST
Jean Sullivian, 2006
Photo by Tom Pernal
TOMS RIVER – A nine-member student team from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES), a division of the Ocean County Vocational Technical School , took a first place prize in a recent underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) contest sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston , Texas .
The Ocean County team remotely controlling its underwater vehicle, Aquafox, maneuvered the craft around a 6.2 million gallon pool to capture the top prize in the ranger class of competition. The team beat out seven other high schools, academies and a college from throughout the United States and Canada . The team also placed first for an Engineering Technical Report and an Engineering Evaluation Presentation. The contest was held in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA's John Space Center .
“It was so much hard work and we spent long hours, both dry and wet, in
preparation, but it paid off in the end,” said MATES instructor Tina Held. Ms. Held served as head coach, facilitator and mentor. Instructor Tom Pernal assisted as the electronics mentor.
The students who participated in the project are Connor McBride, Lakehurst; Maria DeLeon, Jackson; Dakota Goldinger, Toms River, the team captain; Christy Campbell, Brick; David Geeter, Jackson; Kyle Boehm, Brick; Alan White, Berkley; Nick Loizos, Toms River and Jake Hershey, Brick.
The NASA competition is organized by the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center (MATE) and the Marine Technology's Society Remote Operated Vehicle Committee. It teaches students about the science and technology of ocean observing, technologies that are also used in space. As NASA prepares to send humans to the moon and eventually to Mars, remotely operated vehicles will be critical tools.
This was the fifth annual international student competition. Last year, a MATES team, placed ninth in a similar contest.