Six students on the Walker High School underwater robotics team recently competed in the 7th Annual Northern Gulf Coast Regional ROV Competition held at The Sea Lab in Dauphin Island, Alabama.

The WHS New Wave Robotics team was one of 27 teams that competed with their custom-built remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Participating teams represented six states: Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, and Louisiana.

The competition is a part of the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) network of 37 regional competitions held worldwide, according to a press release. The competition uses underwater robotics to inspire and challenge students to learn and creatively apply scientific, engineering, and technical skills to solving real-world problems.

The MATE theme for 2019 is “Innovations for Inshore: ROV Operations in Rivers, Lakes, and Dams,” which highlights the role ROVs play in addressing problems in freshwater rivers, lakes, and dams.

Competing students were tasked with creating an engineering company that designs, builds and uses underwater robots to carry out specified missions. The missions created by MATE included inspecting and repairing a dam, maintaining healthy waterways, and preserving history by locating and recovering a Civil War-era cannon.

There were three difficulty levels in the competition: Scout, Ranger, or Navigator. In addition to the ROV missions, the Navigator and Ranger teams had to present their company’s design plans and implementation procedures to a panel of engineers and their fellow competitors.

The program wrapped up on Sunday, April 28, with the awards ceremony.

Walker High students who participated included Jacob Hillen, Jacob Wilkinson, Alex Bel, Carmen Coniglio, Victoria Boyle and Jacob Whitton. The six-person WHS team, which competed in the highest level it ever has, scored a second-place finish in the “Navigator” class competition.

WHS students competed under robotics teacher Holly Bonnette.

(1) comment


This is a great group of kids, they did an awesome job. Mrs. Bonnette does an excellent job and she goes above and beyond for her students.

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