HK Underwater Robot Challenge 2007 expands to include universities and colleges

Jenny Kwan

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The Hong Kong Underwater Robot Challenge 2007, organized by WWF and City University of Hong Kong (CityU), will expand this year to include universities and colleges. The aim is to get more young people interested in marine conservation and to transfer knowledge about technology.

Mr Eric Bohm, CEO of WWF Hong Kong said, "We are very impressed by the success of

the first Underwater Robot Challenge earlier this year. Our young scientists have demonstrated their outstanding talents by winning important prizes from the International Underwater Robot Challenge. We hope by expanding the competition to the universities and colleges, we can further enhance their understanding about marine conservation and inspire their interest in applying technology to protect our marine environment."

Professor Richard Ho Yan-ki, Vice-President (Undergraduate Education), said secondary school teachers, students and their parents welcomed the first Underwater Robot Challenge, which was held in 2006. In order to encourage more young people to apply robotics technology to marine conservation and other areas, this year's contest will allow university and college students to take part.

Professor Ho pointed out research and teaching were inextricably linked. Research informed teaching, including the provision of research opportunities so students could contribute to the development of the community, he said.

"CityU has been involved in underwater robotics research for 10 years and is very keen to pass the technology on to the younger generation through these kinds of interesting activities," Professor Ho said.

Participants in the Hong Kong Underwater Robot Challenge 2007, which will be held in April 2007, will be divided into groups of secondary school and college-level students. Teams of secondary school students will be given a robot kit free of charge and CityU will hold workshops on building underwater robots and modifying the basic design to accomplish tasks set out in the Challenge. Teams of college-level students are encouraged to use the expertise available at CityU in their designs.

Subject to the availability of sponsorship, the winning team in each group will have the opportunity to compete in the International Underwater Robot Challenge, which will be held at the Marine Institute and the Institute for Ocean Technology, Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada in June 2007.

In recognition of the International Polar Year in 2007, the competition scenario in the International contest will highlight polar regions and reflect the challenges that scientists and engineers face working there. The rules and guidelines of the Hong Kong contest in April will be based on the International ones in Canada.

Dr Robin Bradbeer, Associate Professor in the Department of Electronic Engineering at CityU, is the planner and technical consultant for the competition. "The main purpose of the contest is to pass on robotics technology to the next generation and get more young people interested in marine conservation," she said.

Dr Bradbeer said she was amazed by the students' achievements in technical knowledge, problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork throughout the process in the first Challenge held earlier this year.

Please visit the event website http://www.ee.cityu.edu.hk/rovcontest/ for details. Registration via the website is welcome. As the number of participating teams is limited, registration will be made on first-come-first-served basis.

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