Sanctuary ready for ROV competition

ALPENA – The Great Lakes Regional Marine Advanced Technology Education remotely operated vehicle competition will be taking place Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m. at Plaza Pool and Alpena High School. The competition is a stepping stone for student teams to the international competition, which will be held at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in June.

Thirty-nine teams from Michigan and one team from Ohio will gather in Alpena to put their engineering skills and ROVs to the test performing different tasks at underwater stations in the pool. The teams also have to prepare and present their team like a business. They put together an informational and promotional poster about the ROV and explain to judges aspects of the build, machine and safety.

“This is the most teams we’ve ever had in the competition,” education coordinator Sarah Waters said. “There are 13 teams from Northeast Michigan, and we have teams coming from Traverse City, Detroit and Ohio. Students ages range from elementary level to high school, and community college, and teams are separated into three different classes.”

Waters said there are over 85 volunteers who help with the competition, and it is a big event to organize.

“We have volunteers who help the teams, volunteers who help judge, divers, and volunteers in every other area of the competition,” Waters said. “We couldn’t have this event without all of their support.”

Stephanie Gandulla, media and outreach coordinator and volunteer coordinator, said volunteers are coming from near and far to help with the event, and there are even some engineers from General Motors who are helping out.

The theme this year is Shipwrecks, Science and Conservation. Teams will work on exploring and documenting shipwrecks, studying sinkholes and conserving national maritime heritage sites such as the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where over 50 submerged wrecks are protected. Students will learn how chemical, biological and physical conditions can affect these archaeological sites.

Mission tasks will have teams driving their ROVs to identify a simulated shipwreck, collect samples from a sinkhole, inventory invasive species and remove trash.

“Everyone is invited to come and watch the students compete, and are encouraged to walk through the gym and look at their poster displays and interact with the teams to learn more about their hard work,” Gandulla said. “It’s great to see what these students do. They enjoy sharing their project and information about their robot to anyone who is interested.

“Engaging with the public is just another part of the skills these students are taught and is an added benefit to the teams. Even if you don’t know someone in the competition, come on out and see the technology and what is involved with this event. It’s a great opportunity and one of the most engaging enterprises for students here in Michigan.”

The contest is supported by local and regional sponsors including Alpena Community College, Young Appliance, Art Hoch, The Wright View and Shipwreck Soda.

For more information about the event, contact Gandulla at or call 356-8805, ext 38.

Local teams competing include:

Underwater Research Robot (UR2)


Immanuel ROV

The Shes

River Raiders Research

Neptune Research Company

Hur-On the Bottom Research Company

The Spartans

Lake Titan Research Company

Red Rover Research Company


Thunder Bay White Caps

Red Rusty Raiders

Torpedo ROV Research Company

Dive In Robotics

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.