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August 17, 2022

Cabrillo robotics team takes home top prize

APTOS—Cabrillo College’s Robotics Club won first place in the 20th annual MATE ROV underwater robotics competition, which took place in Long Beach from June 23-25.

The team took the top prize after facing off in the competition’s Pioneer Division against Pasadena City College, Savannah Technical College from Savannah, Ga. and Southwest Virginia Community College from Cedar Bluff, Va.

The club, represented by students Ciaran Farley, Isaac Wax and Spencer Koontz, was also awarded the Engineering Presentation Champion award and the Technical Documentation Champion award. Cabrillo alumnus Carter Frost assisted with the computer code that drove the robot.

MATE international and regional ROV competitions challenge students to design and build underwater robots to tackle mission tasks based on real-world applications.

With the theme of declining ocean health, the teams were required to create a fictitious business plan, and to build a robot that could perform a series of underwater tasks—in a pool instead of an ocean for the competition—including a handful of undersea repair simulation missions, a simulation of a coral reef rejuvenation, a simulation of a shipwreck mapping and a simulation of an undersea internet cable repair.

“Those are all simplified simulations of tasks robotics companies are trying to solve in the industry right now,” Farley said. 

The Cabrillo Robotics team members said they had heard about the competition in high school, and pulled a team together to represent Cabrillo.

Farley said he wanted a chance to participate in the worldwide competition, an option unavailable at lower levels.

“Now in college, we had the opportunity to participate in the Pioneer class at the world competition, and we brought home an overall win, plus Engineering and Documentation wins,” he said. “It made all of the lost sleep and time we took off of work well worth it.”

Engineering instructor Mike Matera, who advised the club, said he was “in awe of the hard work and the brilliance of the club members.”

“This win is even more impressive from a team that met mostly online last year,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Farley says the creation process included designing and building the frame, motor mounts and claws, as well as the electronics.

He says the process was made somewhat more difficult by the newness of the team.

“Cabrillo College hasn’t had a mate team as long as I have been there, so we had to do everything from scratch,” he said.

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