The power of teamwork doesn’t just show up on the basketball court or the soccer field, it is a driving force on ROV (underwater robot) teams as well, and it showed at the MATE Great Lakes Regional ROV Competition at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center on May 11th, 2024.

Teams were tasked with demonstrating their ROVs’ capabilities in a marine technology training tank, they navigated through a series of challenges under strict time constraints. Additionally, they presented their projects to a panel of judges, articulating their design process and objectives. They also captured an overview of the entire project on a prepared display board, telling the story of their ROV’s conception and purpose.

These teams had been planning, building, and preparing for months. There were 18 teams who competed. Five of them in the Scout category, nine in the Navigator category and four in the Ranger (advanced) category.

The competition theme and missions change each year. The focus of the 2024 competition season is expanding the Global Ocean Observing System, protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, and unlocking ocean-based solutions to climate change.


Scout Overall 2nd place: Pickles on Pizza – Alcona Middle School

Scout Overall 1st place: – T.A.R.P. Tech – Iosco County 4H / Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing

Navigator Overall 2nd place: The Tridents – Thunder Bay Junior High

Navigator Overall 1st place: The Zip Tie Mechanics – Thunder Bay Junior High

Ranger Overall 2nd place: E3 – Alcona High School

Ranger Overall 1st place: Underwater Research Robotics (UR2) – Alpena High School

Safety Award: The Strawberry Crabs – Thunder Bay Junior High

Tethered Together Award: The Tridents – Thunder Bay Junior High

Somehow Someway Award: Spongebot – Thunder Bay Junior High

Innovation Award: N.E.W.T. – Rudyard High School

MATE Great Lakes Regional ROV Competition is supported by local professionals, including engineers and inventors, and especially by volunteers who act as judges for the competition, evaluating the student’s ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations. The competition is one of 48 regionals held around the world. The UR2 Ranger Team from Alpena High School is advancing to the World Championship MATE ROV Competition in Kingsport, Tennessee in June 2024.

Team lowers ROV into tanks

TARP TECH deploying ROV in operations portion of competition

Team working on ROV

Team NEWT working on ROV in prep tent

4 young woman drive their ROV in the tank

Team Pickles on Pizza driving their ROV in the tank