North-east pupils to compete stateside in international underwater robotics competition

Two teams of north-east school pupils are set to travel to the United States to compete in an international underwater robotics competition.

Mintlaw Academy ROV 2016The teams, from Mintlaw Academy and Robert Gordon’s College, will compete in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Centre’s 2016 ROV international final in Houston later this month.

Mintlaw Academy took first place in the Scottish final of the ROV competition, which was co-ordinated and hosted by Robert Gordon University (RGU), while the Robert Gordon’s College team secured second place.

The pupils will now travel to the NASA Johnson Space Centre’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab to compete against more than 50 teams from around the world as part of the competition which runs from June 23 to 25, using ROVs they designed and built during the past school year.

This year’s contest focuses on the similarities in technologies for use in the ocean and those used in outer space.

Ali Hynd, technical teacher at Mintlaw Academy, said: “The team has been progressing well and has added new rolling and a new tether to the vehicle. They have spent a lot of time finishing off technical reports and putting in as many pool hours as possible. 

“We are extremely excited about the trip to Houston especially the opportunity to see the Neutral Buoyancy Lab and meet the other international teams.”

Roy Wakeford, technology teacher at Robert Gordon’s College, said: “At the Scottish regional competition the team completed various tasks in the dive tank, gaining points for their presentation to the judges and for the ingenuity they showed when designing the subsea robot.”

The major STEM initiative aims to inspire future engineers through hands-on experience of designing remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) used underwater in the oil and gas, defence, oceanology and marine renewables industries.

BP North Sea has been a major sponsor of the Scottish regional competition since its launch in 2008, with Subsea UK joining the company as headline sponsor for the second year. Additional funding is provided by ROVOP and The Underwater Centre in Fort William.

The RGC team secured further sponsorship to allow them to join Mintlaw in the international competition from various supporters including Nexen Petroleum U.K. Limited, Balmoral Offshore Engineering, Subsea 7, Hunting, The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa, Brewin Dolphin and The Gordonian Association,.

Robert Gordon's College ROV teamJoanne McDonald, team leader of the Mintlaw Academy team, said: “The team has really come together since the RGU competition, and are especially proud to have recently won the Pride of Buchan award. Special thanks should go to Neil Stagg from BP for his time and help mentoring us this year.”

Sixth year Robert Gordon’s College pupil Jack Noble said: “The RGSea team is tremendously excited to have this opportunity, and look forward to competing in America in June. This project would not be possible without our sponsors, our mentors Mr Wakeford and Mr Hinks of BP and the entire team of pupils who have devoted an enormous amount of time and energy into making something great.”

The teams are encouraged to tackle the competition like they are running a company. As well as the pool run in NASA’s NBL, they will deliver a presentation on their ROV and produce a marketing display poster and written report. The teams have demonstrated entrepreneurial skills in their collaboration with company sponsors and welcomed advice on improving their ROV from industry experts.

For more information on the competition, visit

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology