Alford marine design technology challenge team in regional final

Alford Academy team at ROV Challenge
Alford Academy team at ROV Challenge

Pupils from Alford Academy made the Scottish regional final of an annual international ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) design challenge.

This year’s Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Scotland ROV Challenge was held at Robert Gordon University (RGU)’s Garthdee campus in Aberdeen last Thursday, April 3, and attracted teams from 11 secondary schools, ranging from Alness to Edinburgh.

The team from Mintlaw Academy won the competition for the second year in a row and will travel alongside RGU’s successful student team to the international final in June where they will compete against the winners of more than 20 other regional competitions around the world.

RGU coordinates the Scottish final of the annual MATE Centre competition, which sees school teams design and build their own underwater robot before battling it out in a series of missions for the chance to compete in the international final held in the United States.

The 2014 MATE challenge highlights the role that ROVs play in exploring and documenting shipwrecks, studying sinkholes, and conserving national maritime heritage sites, with teams expected to complete missions based around these elements using the ROV they have constructed.

This year’s final will be held at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in Alpena, Michigan, an area of water that is known as ‘Shipwreck Alley’ owing to its treacherous nature.

Engineering lecturer Graeme Dunbar, who leads RGU’s involvement in the event, said: “The ROV schools competition is always a lot of fun and it has been great to see its popularity continue to grow year on year since we first started running it in 2008.

“One of the competition’s main aims is to get pupils interested in engineering and help them to apply their knowledge of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in a practical environment.”

Principal sponsorship for this year’s event has come from BP North Sea and Subsea 7, with additional support from Oceaneering, DOF Subsea, ROVOP, EnQuest and Fugro.

Lynne Staples-Scott, Corporate Responsibility Manager for BP North Sea, said: “We are delighted to once again support RGU on this exciting initiative which offers school pupils a great opportunity to find out more about our industry and some of the technology we use.

“Our continued sponsorship is not only a genuine commitment to the future development of our industry, but also represents a positive investment in the young people of Scotland.”

Subsea 7’s UK & Canada Vice President, Phil Simons, added: “We’re hugely proud to sponsor this competition. We see it as an investment in inspiring the brightest and best young minds in Scotland to take a greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and a closer look into the career opportunities in the subsea industry.”

For further information, visit or to find out how to get involved, contact Graeme Dunbar, MATE Scotland ROV Challenge Coordinator on (01224) 2622415 or email


Notes to editors

Participating schools are:

Alford Academy

Alness Academy

Banff Academy

Bridge of Don Academy

Bucksburn Academy

Craigmount High School, Edinburgh

Mackie Academy

Menzieshill High School

Mintlaw Academy

Peterhead Academy

Robert Gordon’s College