The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center coordinates an international student underwater robotics competition every year. Regional qualifier competitions are held all over the world. Our team competes in the Big Island Regional ROV Competition. Student teams from upper elementary school, middle school, high school, home school, community colleges, universities and community organizations take part in this competition. There are three different “classes” in this competition, each having different mission and build requirements.

The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) center Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition simulates tasks that real ROVs complete. Students not only have to build a waterproofed vehicle that is able to do mission tasks underwater, they also have to write a twenty page long technical report about their ROV and put together a presentation for a panel of judges.

In this presentation, the judges assess the team’s knowledge of their Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), what they learned from the competition, and how well the team handled adversity. The competition exposes students to ocean-related careers and connects them with employers and professionals from the workplace. The missions vary year to year.



This year, our ROV was tasked with simulating a search for sunken artifacts hidden within a sunken ship. The Tiki Techs worked collaboratively to design, model, create, test, and refine our ROV to ensure the successful completion of all of the tasks and challenges. The challenge required a submersible vehicle with the ability to drive swiftly between tasks and have smooth access to all of its tools. The Tiki Techs specifically engineered each tool for this year’s tasks. Tool design was tested in isolation and later incorporated into the whole ROV. Our team parallels industrial practices through creating weekly working groups with project managers that organize human resources and ensure timely competition of each stage. Each week, the Tiki Techs meet for 10 hours collectively, while individual project managers often call for additional small group meetings to complete limited tasks. On Fridays, our team conducts a thirty minute debrief to recap the previous week’s progress and make an action plan for the next week. This process allows the team to work through many challenging situations and create a fully functional and tested ROV. Our team also worked to ensure educational synergy through community outreach/education, technical writing, media relations, and diverse games.


This year’s missions revolve around is The Role of ROVs in Exploring WWII Shipwrecks. In this year’s mission, ROVs have to survey a shipwreck site and remove fuel oil from the ship within a fifteen minute period. Surveying the shipwreck includes measuring the length of the wreck, determining the orientation of the ship on the seafloor, creating a map of the wreck site, determining if debris piles are metal or non‐metal and scanning the shipwreck with sonar. When the ROV removes fuel from the ship, they must transporting and attach a lift bag to a fallen mast, inflating the lift bag to remove the fallen mast, remove endangered encrusting coral from the ship’s hull, transplant the coral, use two simulated sensors to determine if fuel oil remains inside the fuel tank, remove a sample of fuel oil from within the tank by drilling a hole into the hull, reseal the hole and return the sample to the surface.