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January 24, 2007

Ashley Deming
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
(989) 356-8805, Ext. 39
Cathy Green
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
(989) 356-8805, Ext. 10


High school and junior high teams from around the Great Lakes will come together on April 28 to compete in the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center’s ROV Building Great Lakes regional competition, hosted by the staff of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Mich. This popular remotely operated vehicle (ROV) building contest pits teams against each other in competition for a chance to challenge other homemade underwater robots in MATE’s international finals in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, in June 2007.

In this year’s competition, teams will design and build ROVs to perform against one another in real-world scenarios focused on operation in polar environments, in celebration of the International Polar Year. This is the sanctuary staff’s third year organizing the Great Lakes regional contest and it is one of the sanctuary’s best opportunities for promoting science education and encouraging students to care about the marine environment.

“This competition is an important component in our education efforts to inspire the next generation of underwater explorers,” said sanctuary education coordinator Cathy Green. “We are looking for additional teams from around the Great Lakes to compete in this challenging and fun event.”

In its sixth year, the MATE international ROV competition has grown to include dozens of teams from all over the United States and Canada. The ROV contest differs from other “robot war” challenges in that it is more than simply an engineering and construction challenge, said MATE competition organizer Jill Zande. The competition also teaches students to work together as a team and improve their communication and writing skills through different portions of the event.

“Beyond being fun and educational, these competitions connect students and educators with employers and working professionals from marine industries in a way that highlights opportunities in marine-related careers.  It also promotes the development of teamwork skills, problem solving, and critical thinking,” Zande said.

Registration for the event is open through Feb. 1, and interested 7th to 12th graders are encouraged to form teams and sign up for the competition online. Building specifications and mission scenarios, along with registration forms, are all available on the MATE Web site, For more information about the 2007 Great Lakes Regional ROV Competition, contact Ashley Deming or Cathy Green at (989) 356-8805, or visit the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Web site at

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was established in 2000 to protect an estimated 200 historically significant shipwrecks ranging from 19th-century wooden side-wheelers to 20th-century steel-hulled steamers. Located in Lake Huron, the 448-square-mile sanctuary brings to the American public the lore of Great Lakes maritime heritage through exploration, education and research.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts, and protects.

On the Internet:
MATE ROV Competition
NOAA's National Ocean Service
National Marine Sanctuary Program
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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