HK Underwater Robot Challenge 2008 expands to include mainland participants

Craig Francis

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The depth of the competition in the Hong Kong Underwater Robot Challenge 2008, organised by WWF and City University of Hong Kong (CityU), promises to be deeper than ever, with the expanded competition welcoming teams from mainland universities and colleges for the first time.

Entries are being accepted for the competition, the regional stage of the MATE International ROV Contest, which will see teams of secondary and university students design, build and operate their underwater robots. Winners will earn the chance to travel to the 2008 International Finals held at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography-University of California, San Diego, California, US, in June 2008, subject to satisfactory sponsorship arrangements. The competition theme focuses on hydrothermal events found at mid-ocean ridges and the technologies used to study these deep-sea environments. Last year three teams from Hong Kong entered the International Contest in Newfoundland.

The Hong Kong Contest is scheduled to be held in April 2008 at CityU. Registration of expressions of interest will close on 31 December.

Dr Robin Bradbeer, Associate Professor in the Department of Electronic Engineering at CityU, is the planner and technical consultant for the competition. “This year we are expanding the contest in two ways: splitting the contest so that schools and colleges/universities do not compete with each other, and also inviting some mainland teams to join us in April. This will allow a wider range of teams to take part, as well as providing more competition, especially at the tertiary education level. We hope that mainland teams will also be able to join the Greater China teams going to San Diego in June,” she said.

Mr Eric Bohm, Chief Executive Officer of WWF Hong Kong, said the third instalment of this annual event promised to be the best yet. “Over the past few years WWF and CityU have established a close working partnership, especially in the field of environmental research and conservation. Students and teachers from Hong Kong schools, colleges and universities are being introduced not only to the science of the marine environment but also to the positive contributions that technology can make. The Hong Kong Underwater Robot Challenge will enhance the interest of the more technologically inclined students,” he said

Four workshops will be held at CityU in January 2008, where remote operated vehicle (ROV) experts will give advice to team leaders, usually a teacher, as well as tutorials in underwater vehicle design for team members. The teams will be able to assemble their ROV kits at these workshops. Teams will also visit Jockey Club HSBC WWF Hong Kong Hoi Ha Marine Life Centre at Hoi Ha Wan to replicate real-life scenarios and view presentations on the use of ROVs and marine conservation technology.

“In addition to being fun and educational, these competitions connect students and educators with professionals from marine industries, and those involved with marine conservation, as well as promoting the development of problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills,” Dr Bradbeer added.

Please visit the event website for further details.


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