Each year, the MATE Center competition challenges students to build an ROV to tackle tasks based on the real world. From simulating missions to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa to diving on hydrothermal vents and determining the identification on an unknown shipwreck, the MATE Center competition allows students from college and university students down to elementary students to build an ROV with a specific goal in mind.
Students are asked to think of themselves as entrepreneurs, forming a company to build and operate an ROV to fulfill the needs of the marine science and technology community. Not only must the ROV complete the assigned underwater tasks, but students must give an oral presentation to industry professionals, create a written technical documentation about their ROV, and fashion a marketing display showcasing their vehicle.
The competition is divided into different competition classes based on the level of complexity required to build the vehicle.
EXPLORER class: Universities, colleges and high schools that have previously participated in the MATE competition. EXPLORER class teams must create a complex vehicle and have a deep understanding of electronics, electricity, sensors, waterproofing canisters, and other technology.
RANGER class: High schools, middle schools with robotics experience, and colleges/universities new to robotics. RANGER class teams should have a good understanding of robotic systems and electricity. Some knowledge of electronics, sensors and waterproofing is helpful. If you have experience in land-based robotics competitions, starting out in the RANGER class could be an option.
NAVIGATOR class: Middle schools with robotics experience, high schools new to robotics and advanced elementary schools with robotics experience. Some understanding of robotic systems and electricity is helpful. If you have limited experience with land-based robotics competitions, or have robotics experience but no competition experience, NAVIGATOR is a great place to start.
SCOUT class: Elementary schools, middle schools and beginning high schools. If you are new to robotics or have limited experience robotics, this is the place to start. The instructions, tutorials and lesson plans will teach you all the basic information you will need. Basic ROV kits will provide you with all the materials you will need to construct a vehicle.
Groups interested in participating in the MATE Center competition should contact their regional coordinator (Click here for our Regional Map and contact information). Regional coordinators can provide groups with additional information and additional local resources.
The overall theme of the competition changes every year. Product demonstration tasks are released in the fall as part of the competition manuals, but many teams start building their control system earlier (the vehicle will always need to move through the water). More information, including score sheets and rubrics, regional competition information and videos, are released in the winter and early spring. Also required at the World Championship is a company spec sheet. Another, optional component offered at some regionals and at the World Championship is corporate responsibility.
The competition consists of a product demonstration run and three engineering and communication components: a product presentation, technical documentation, and a marketing display.
The Product Demonstration is the vehicle completing the in-water mission tasks. Teams are scored on what they are able to complete and a time bonus if they can complete all the tasks.
The Product Presentation is an oral presentation given by the student team members to a panel of working professionals, followed by a question and answer period.
The Technical Documentation is a written report detailing the design and operational features of the vehicle.
The Marketing Display is a poster that showcases the features of the vehicle.
The Company Spec Sheet is a one page, brief description of the team (company) and ROV.
Corporate Responsibility is way for teams to “give back” and have a positive impact on their peers, community, and the environment.
More information on all competition components can be found in the competition manuals which are available on The Challenge page for each competition class.