Annual Gray’s Reef MATE ROV Competition set to take place at Chatham County Aquatic Center


The 2022 Gray’s Reef Marine Technology Advanced Technology Educations (MATE) ROV Competition will take place on Sat., May 7 at the Chatham Co. Aquatic Ctr., 7240 Sallie Mood Dr.

The Gray’s Reef MATE ROV competition is just one of 41 regional qualifiers based in the U.S. and across the world.

The goal of the competition is to both inspire and challenge students to solve real world problems while strengthening their critical thinking, collaboration, entrepreneurship and innovation through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Elementary school to college level teams from across Georgia and the southeast U.S. will be tasked with designing, constructing and piloting remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to complete a number of underwater challenges.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ROVs are unoccupied, highly maneuverable machines that can be used to explore the ocean depths while being remotely piloted from the surface.

Jody Patterson is the Director for Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Since 2014 she has served as the regional coordinator for the Gray’s Reef Regional MATE ROV Competition. As part of her role with MATE, Patterson supports development of regional programs both domestically and internationally.

Patterson said that the competition is a way for students to sharpen their skills in STEM while also encouraging student teams to think of themselves as entrepreneurs.

“There are fairly complex, hard skills that students are engaged in. Just in building their robots and the software that guides them. But in addition to that, it’s a great team building exercise in project management,” said Patterson. “These teams have to think about themselves like a small business. They have to market themselves as such.”

Teams are required to create their own marketing poster that describes their business, team and product they created.

Along with out-of-town teams, local teams from Savannah Technical College, Tybee Island Maritime Academy, St. Andrews School, Woodville Tompkins Career and Technical Highschool, the Stem Academy at Bartlett and Oglethorpe Charter School will also be competing.

Teams are split into five separate classes based on their skill level and the complexity of their project. The five classes include:

•    Scout Class: Designed for elementary schools, middle schools and beginning high schools that have limited experience in robotics.

•    Navigator Class: Designed for middle schools with robotic experience, high schools new to robotics and elementary schools with experience in robotics.

•    Ranger Class: Designed for middle schools and high schools with robotics experience.

•    Pioneer Class: Designed for first time four-year universities along with technical and community colleges.

•    Explorer Class: Designed for universities, colleges and high schools that have previously competed in MATE ROV Competitions.

Regional winners from the Ranger, Pioneer and Explorer classes will earn a spot in the MATE ROV World Championship in Long Beach, California between June 23 to 25.

This year’s competition will highlight the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development in an effort to create a sustainable future for our planet’s oceans.

Teams will be challenged to design and build a ROV with the necessary sensors and tools to support work tackling climate change, provide clean energy, feed our growing population, monitor ocean health and preserve maritime history.

“What really excites me about the program is that beyond all of the really hard STEM skills and knowledge that these students are acquiring, they’re also getting immersed in ocean science and ocean exploration,” said Patterson. “For Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, that means that these students are learning about the field work and research that is taking place right here off the coast of Georgia.”

For more information on the Gray’s Reef MATE ROV Competition visit

About The Author

Alex Arango

Alex Arango is a multimedia journalist and Savannah local. He has a passion for quality community journalism, and is looking forward to serving the city that he has always called home.

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