International competition again this year for underwater-robotics trio AMNO & CO

June 15, 2014 12:42 pm
|    Comments Off on International competition again this year for underwater-robotics trio AMNO & CO
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle people

(AMNO & CO in regional competition, sped up 2.8x)
For the third year in a row, we’ve received an update from AMNO & CO, the local trio that competes in underwater robotics, and again this year, they’ve made it to the international level! Team member Alex Miller shares this update as he and his teammates get ready to head to this year’s competition in Michigan:

Last month, the local Seattle team AMNO & CO qualified to compete in the international level of the MATE ROV competition by winning the Pacific Northwest Regional. (For more information on the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center’s Remotely Operated Vehicle competition [go here].)

The MATE competition has teams build robots that can accomplish specified underwater tasks. For the team members – Alex Miller, Nicholas Orndorff, and Clara Orndorff – this will be the third consecutive time they have qualified.

At the end of June, the team will travel to Alpena, Michigan, where this year’s tasks revolve around the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which is home to many shallow-water shipwrecks. Not only must teams design and build high-performance vehicles; they also must create posters, write technical reports, and give engineering presentations about the design of their vehicle.

An ROV is a vehicle which is driven underwater while being controlled from the surface. This makes them invaluable for underwater exploration and for work in situations that would be dangerous to divers. In the international competition, AMNO & CO will compete against more than 30 regional champions from many states and countries around the world, including Scotland, Russia, Egypt, China, and Indonesia.

The MATE competition uses tasks that relate to real-world events to encourage students to become interested in maritime careers. This year’s tasks revolve around shipwreck exploration and preservation; due to natural and human activities, valuable shipwreck sites in places such as the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary are deteriorating. Among other tasks, the ROVs have to enter simulated wrecks and retrieve specific objects, determine the type of ship and its home port, and take relevant sensor readings from the area. While the tasks are simulated, they mimic the work done by professional ROVs in their attempts to research and preserve what remains of many important wrecks.

The AMNO & CO ROV team is supported by local sponsors, but their project would not have been possible without the generous contributions of the public during the team’s summer bake sales near Alki Beach in West Seattle. Their fundraising efforts have led them to many awards for their work as well as their trips to the international competition. The team would like to thank everyone who contributed and let them know that their support was key to their success so far.

In addition to this fundraising, AMNO & CO member Alex Miller has been using many of the skills that he has learned from building ROVs in order to mentor the robotics club at Lafayette Elementary. The ROV competition has taught him about the value of presentation, collaboration, and documentation in addition to the designing and building process. He has tried to pass that on to the younger kids, setting up a competition, where, in addition to their mission they also had to give a presentation and write programming flowcharts.

The international competition will be in Alpena, Michigan, June 26-28. For more information about AMNO & CO, please visit or contact them at

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