Student-designed Robots Make a Splash at BIOS’s ROV Challenge

JD Symonds

JD Symonds (left), a former BIOS Bermuda Program intern, helps a team from Dellwood Middle School with their remotely operated vehicle (or ROV) during this year’s Bermuda Regional ROV Challenge, part of the BIOS Mid-Atlantic Robotics IN Education (MARINE) program. Symonds has volunteered for the event in various capacities since it began in 2014.

Last month, twenty-one teams from nine schools—including a new team from Impact Mentoring Academy—met at the National Sports Centre for the 2019 Marine Advanced Technology in Education (MATE) Bermuda Regional Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Challenge.

The program, hosted by the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), is part of the organization’s Mid-Atlantic Robotics IN Education (MARINE) program. This year’s event was made possible with donor support from HSBC, who has partnered with BIOS in support of this program for the past five years, the XL Foundation, and a number of other local partners.


The Bermuda College team uses a viewing box to help the navigator (seated, left) maneuver the ROV at the bottom of the pool. The viewing box reduces the ripples on the surface of the water, allowing for a clearer line of sight through the water column.

Jacki Dodds, Head of Regulatory Compliance for HSBC, and HSBC spokesperson for the BIOS partnership, shared, “We are pleased to have supported BIOS for the fifth year of this robotics competition. The school teams demonstrated that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects can be fun, and that through teamwork and collaboration, common goals can be achieved. Although Bermuda is a small island, our efforts toward environmental protection and conservation are just as important. It is the drive and passion of these students that will not only point us in the right direction towards a more sustainable planet, but also introduce critical and innovative career paths in these fields to today’s generation to address these concerns.”

“The ROV Challenge reflects BIOS’s commitment to using underwater vehicles to understand engineering fundamentals and complex ocean processes,” said Kaitlin Noyes, Director of BIOS’s Ocean Academy. Building ROVs fosters critical thinking skills, enhances individual and group problem solving skills, and boosts technological fluency. It also supports island-wide education goals associated with STEM fields.

ROV, Clearwater Middle School

A student from Clearwater Middle School retrieves a “degraded tire” from the seafloor. The ROV competition challenges teams to design robots capable of completing a suite of underwater tasks, which this year included measuring water quality, performing inspections, and recovering historical artifacts.

During the competition, which lasted about four hours, teams of students sent their robots on a variety of missions centered around this year’s theme of “Ocean Zones and ROV Operations in Rivers, Lakes, and Dams.” Multiple courses were set up in the Sports Centre pool, each with pre-determined tasks for the ROVs, and their student pilots, to complete within an allotted time. Students competed at a variety of levels of difficulty, as designated by MATE and BIOS: Beginner, Scout (Intermediate), and Ranger (Advanced Intermediate).

Students on the beginner teams were asked to build vehicles capable of conducting water sampling activities at depth, collecting deep-sea organisms and samples of marine debris, and assisting in the creation of bathymetric (seafloor) maps. Scout and Ranger teams were tasked with conducting inspections and repairs of a local dam, checking water quality parameters, restoring the health of the local waterway and fish habitat, and recovering historical artifacts from the riverbed. Teams of all levels also earned points from judges based on a marketing poster and team interviews about the design and engineering principles used in the construction of their respective ROVs.

Dellwood Middle School, ROV

The Dellwood Middle School “DMS Aqua Lions” present information about their ROV company and design rationale to a panel of judges during the ROV Challenge. The team would eventually go on to take top honors in the scout category with their first place for total score.

An Mei Daniels, a 15-year old Year 11 student at Warwick Academy, has participated in the MARINE ROV Challenge since 2015. “The best part of the event was watching our ROV complete the tasks and realizing that all our hard work paid off. It’s one thing to have ideas; it’s another thing to watch those ideas become reality.”

Ayr Cannonier, a 13-year old M3 student at Clearwater Middle School and team member of CW ROV INC., has been a part of the school’s robotics team for three years now. He says the experience has inspired him to become a nuclear engineer and entrepreneur. “My favorite part of the challenge is driving. Before we get to the competition we do a couple of practice runs to see who is the best driver. We end up with two pilots, one for the gripper and one for the ROV.”

BIOS would like to extend special thanks to La Trattoria and the Orange Bay Company for sponsoring a pizza lunch for all participants, mentors, and event volunteers.

The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences is an independent U.S. not-for-profit marine research and educational organization with 501(c)(3) status and a Bermuda Registered Charity (#116).

Clearwater Middle School, ROV

The Clearwater Middle School “CW ROV Inc.” team took top honors with their first place for total score in the Ranger category of the ROV Challenge.

The 2019 ROV Challenge team winners are as follows:


FIRST PLACE TOTAL SCORE (Primary): Somerset Primary School “Bees”

FIRST PLACE TOTAL SCORE (Middle/Secondary): Clearwater Middle School “Ocean Connection” (tie)

FIRST PLACE TOTAL SCORE (Middle/Secondary): Clearwater Middle School “Explorers”

BEST OVERALL MARKETING POSTER (All Beginners): Dellwood Middle School “DMS Sea Lions”

BEST OVERALL PRODUCT INTERVIEW (Primary): Harrington Sound Primary School “Sting Rays & Hurricanes”

BEST OVERALL PRODUCT INTERVIEW (Middle/Secondary): Impact Mentoring Academy


FIRST PLACE TOTAL SCORE SCOUT: Dellwood Middle School “DMS Aqua Lions”

SECOND PLACE TOTAL SCORE SCOUT: Clearwater Middle School “CW Scouts”


BEST OVERALL PRODUCT INTERVIEW SCOUT: Warwick Academy “WA ROVs” and Saltus “Atlantis”

FIRST PLACE TOTAL SCORE RANGER: Clearwater Middle School “CW ROV Inc.”



BEST OVERALL PRODUCT INTERVIEW: Bermuda College “CERVO Inc.” and Warwick Academy “Dam Fine ROVs”

Saltus Grammar School, ROV

Students from Saltus Grammar School work together to maneuver their ROV into position.

For more photos please visit the MATE MARINE 2019 ROV Challenge photo album on the BIOS Ocean Academy Facebook page.